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Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2011 Apr;17(4):455-64. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2010.06.002. Epub 2010 Jun 9.

The potential utility of bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplantation for the treatment of type I diabetes mellitus.

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Division of Hematology/Medical Oncology, Oncology Center, Faculty of Medicine, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt.


The pathology of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1D) involves the autoimmune destruction or malfunction of pancreatic β cells, leading to a lack of insulin. The absence of insulin is life-threatening, necessitating daily hormone injections from an exogenous source. Insulin injections do not adequately mimic the precise regulation of β cells on glucose homeostasis, however, eventually leading to complications in diabetic patients. There currently is no definitive cure for T1D. Pancreas transplantation, although quite successful, is an invasive intervention that is restricted to patients with advanced complications, requires constant immunosuppression, and is severely limited by donor availability. Recent progress in human islet cell isolation and immunosuppressive protocols has restored euglycemia in patients who received islet cells from 2 or 3 pancreas donors. However, because of the scarcity of cadaver pancreata and the low yield of islet cells obtained by the procedure, not all patients have access to this surgical intervention. Thus, other therapeutic approaches are needed to arrest immune aggression, preserve β cell mass, and provide efficient replacement. In this sense, bone marrow and umbilical cord blood transplantation are promising possibilities that merit exploration. In this review, we summarize multiple strategies that have been proposed and tested for potential therapeutic benefit in patients with T1D.

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