Liver focal fatty changes at ultrasound after islet transplantation: An early sign of altered graft function?

M. Venturini, E. Angeli, P. Maffi, C. Losio, P. Pozzi, C. Paties, M. Cellina, F. De Cobelli, P. Fiorina, A. Secchi, A. Del Maschio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims Few longitudinal imaging studies of liver-engrafted islets after islet transplantation are available for islet-transplant-alone (ITA) and islet-after-kidney (IAK) transplanted patients. Particularly controversial is the link between islet function and the appearance of islet-induced liver focal fatty changes. Aims of this study were to assess liver focal fatty changes at ultrasound after islet transplantation and their relationship with islet function. Methods The timing of first ultrasound detection of liver focal fatty changes and the prevalence and duration of these changes were assessed in 30 IAK transplanted patients, in five ITA patients and, retrospectively, in full-, partial- and no-function groups, according to islet function evaluated 1 year after transplantation. Patients with persistent ultrasound detected liver focal fatty changes underwent liver biopsy. Ultrasound positive and negative patients with functioning islets were compared for islet-function and C-peptide-levels during the follow-up. Variations of cholesterol/triglycerides and other metabolic parameters were also recorded at 1 year. Results Liver focal fatty changes at ultrasound were found in 12 patients (10/30 IAK, 2/5 ITA). First detection was at 6 months in eight cases and at 12 months in four cases. Liver ultrasound changes were of more than 1 year duration in eight cases. Steatosis was found histologically in 8/8 patients. At 12 months, liver ultrasound changes were detected to a greater extent in patients with partial islet function (10/12, eight IAK, two ITA) compared with patients with full islet function. C-peptide-levels were significantly lower in ultrasound-positive than in ultrasound-negative patients. At 18 months, ultrasound- positive patients were more prone to worsening of their function (9/12) compared with ultrasound-negative patients (3/18). No statistically significant differences of cholesterol/triglycerides levels were found in either the total number of patients or the IAK and ITA patients. Conclusions Liver focal fatty changes at ultrasound (steatosis) after islet transplantation in IAK and ITA patients may represent an early sign of altered graft function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)960-964
Number of pages5
JournalDiabetic Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • insulin action
  • islet
  • ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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