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Transplantation of the pancreas, either as a solid organ or as isolated islets of Langerhans, is indicated in a small proportion of patients with insulin-dependent diabetes in whom severe complications develop, particularly severe glycemic instability and progressive secondary complications (usually renal failure). The potential to reverse diabetes has to be balanced against the morbidity of long-term immunosuppression. For a patient with renal failure, the treatment of choice is often a simultaneous transplant of the pancreas and kidney (SPK), whereas for a patient with glycemic instability, specifically hypoglycemic unawareness, the choice between a solid organ and an islet transplant has to be individual to the patient. Results of SPK transplantation are comparable to other solid-organ transplants (kidney, liver, heart) and there is evidence of improved quality of life and life expectancy, but the results of solitary pancreas transplantation and islets are inferior with respect to graft survival. There is some evidence of benefit with respect to the progression of secondary diabetic complications in patients with functioning transplants for several years.

Original publication




Journal article


Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med

Publication Date





Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Graft Survival, Humans, Islets of Langerhans Transplantation, Kidney Failure, Chronic, Kidney Transplantation, Pancreas Transplantation, Treatment Outcome