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Annu Rev Med. 2004;55:133-56.

Beta-cell replacement for type I diabetes.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Transplantation, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


The ability to achieve insulin independence with either solid-organ pancreas or islet transplantation has increased the number of patients seeking beta-cell replacement as an alternative to insulin therapy. Despite dramatic improvements in the ability to achieve insulin independence following solid-organ pancreas transplantation, the secondary complications of long-standing diabetes are frequently irreversible by the time surgical intervention is justified based on the risk of this procedure. Pancreatic islet transplantation provides a safer and less invasive alternative for beta-cell replacement that could be justified earlier in the course of diabetes to prevent the development of secondary complications. Recent advances in the technology of islet isolation, as well as the ability to prevent the alloimmune and recurrent autoimmune response following islet transplantation with immunosuppressive regimens that are not toxic to beta cells, have rekindled an interest in this field. Widespread application of islet transplantation will depend on further improvements in selective immunosuppression, development of immunologic tolerance, and finding new sources of beta cells.

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