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J Clin Invest. 2008 May;118(5):1625-8. doi: 10.1172/JCI35639.

Immunosuppression in islet transplantation.

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La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Islet transplantation can temporarily cure type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) but requires simultaneous immunosuppression to avoid allograft rejection. In this issue of the JCI, Monti et al. report that immune conditioning via use of the Edmonton protocol - a treatment approach in which T1DM patients infused with pancreatic islets from multiple cadaveric donors simultaneously receive immunosuppressive drugs - results in lymphopenia that is associated with elevated serum levels of the homeostatic cytokines IL-7 and IL-15, which causes in vivo expansion of the autoreactive CD8(+) T cell population (see the related article beginning on page 1806). Reemergence of autoreactivity is likely the main culprit underlying long-term islet graft failure, and new strategies will need to be tested to circumvent this homeostatic expansion and recurrent autoreactivity.

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