Chapter V. Beta-Cell Replacement

Rev Diabet Stud, 2012, 9(4):385-406 DOI 10.1900/RDS.2012.9.385

Islet Transplantation in Type 1 Diabetes: Ongoing Challenges, Refined Procedures, and Long-Term Outcome

A.M. James Shapiro

Clinical Islet Transplant Program, University of Alberta, 2000 College Plaza, 8215 112th Street, Edmonton AB Canada T6G 2C8


Remarkable progress has been made in islet transplantation over a span of 40 years. Once just an experimental curiosity in mice, this therapy has moved forward, and can now provide robust therapy for highly selected patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D), refractory to stabilization by other means. This progress could not have occurred without extensive dynamic international collaboration. Currently, 1,085 patients have undergone islet transplantation at 40 international sites since the Edmonton Protocol was reported in 2000 (752 allografts, 333 autografts), according to the Collaborative Islet Transplant Registry. The long-term results of islet transplantation in selected centers now match registry data of pancreas-alone transplantation, with 6 sites reporting five-year insulin independence rates ≥50%. Islet transplantation has been criticized for the use of multiple donor pancreas organs, but progress has also occurred in single-donor success, with 10 sites reporting increased single-donor engraftment. The next wave of innovative clinical trial interventions will address instant blood-mediated inflammatory reaction (IBMIR), apoptosis, and inflammation, and will translate into further marked improvements in single-donor success. Effective control of auto- and alloimmunity is the key to long-term islet function, and high-resolution cellular and antibody-based assays will add considerable precision to this process. Advances in immunosuppression, with new antibody-based targeting of costimulatory blockade and other T-B cellular signaling, will have further profound impact on the safety record of immunotherapy. Clinical trials will move forward shortly to test out new human stem cell derived islets, and in parallel trials will move forward, testing pig islets for compatibility in patients. Induction of immunological tolerance to self-islet antigens and to allografts is a difficult challenge, but potentially within our grasp.

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Rev Diabet Stud, 2012, 9(4):407-416 DOI 10.1900/RDS.2012.9.407

Islet Neogenesis: A Possible Pathway for Beta-Cell Replenishment

Susan Bonner-Weir, Lili Guo, Wan-Chun Li, Limor Ouziel-Yahalom, Philippe A. Lysy, Gordon C. Weir, Arun Sharma

Joslin Diabetes Center, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, 1 Joslin Place, Boston, MA 02215
Address correspondence to: Susan Bonner-Weir, e-mail


Diabetes, particularly type 1 diabetes, results from the lack of pancreatic β-cells. β-cell replenishment can functionally reverse diabetes, but two critical challenges face the field: 1. protection of the new β-cells from autoimmunity and allorejection, and 2. development of β-cells that are readily available and reliably functional. This chapter will examine the potential of endogenous replenishment of pancreatic β-cells as a possible therapeutic tool if autoimmunity could be blunted. Two pathways for endogenous replenishment exist in the pancreas: replication and neogenesis, defined as the formation of new islet cells from pancreatic progenitor/stem cells. These pathways of β-cell expansion are not mutually exclusive and both occur in embryonic development, in postnatal growth, and in response to some injuries. Since the β-cell population is dramatically reduced in the pancreas of type 1 diabetes patients, with only a small fraction of the β-cells surviving years after onset, replication of preexisting β-cells would not be a reasonable start for replenishment. However, induction of neogenesis could provide a starting population that could be further expanded by replication. It is widely accepted that neogenesis occurs in the initial embryonic formation of the endocrine pancreas, but its occurrence anytime after birth has become controversial because of discordant data from lineage tracing experiments. However, the concept was built upon many observations from different models and species over many years. Herein, we discuss the role of neogenesis in normal growth and regeneration, as learned from rodent models, followed by an analysis of what has been found in humans.

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