Aims/hypothesis: Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease leading to complications such as peripheral neuropathies, nephropathy and cardiovascular disease. Pancreatic islet transplantation is being extensively investigated for blood glucose control in animals and in human type 1 diabetic patients, but the question of whether it can reverse long-term diabetic complications has not been fully explored. We investigated the effects of islet transplantation on diabetic complications in a rat model of streptozotocin-induced diabetes. Methods: Three groups of rats were used: healthy controls, diabetic and diabetic rats transplanted with microencapsulated islets at 2 months after diabetes induction, when neuropathy was detectable by a decrease in tail nerve conduction velocity (NCV) and impaired nociceptive thresholds. Blood glucose levels and body weight were measured weekly. The variables considered were: thermal (hot plate test) and mechanical sensitivity (Randal-Selitto paw withdrawal test), NCV and Na+, K+-ATPase activity in the sciatic nerve. At the end of the experiments hearts were removed for morphometric determination and myocyte number, and kidneys removed for histological examination. Results: Islet transplantation in diabetic rats induced normoglycaemia in a few days, accompanied by a rapid rise in body weight and amelioration of impaired nociceptive thresholds, as well as normalisation of NCV and Na+, K+-ATPase, which were both about 25% below normal in diabetic rats. Myocyte loss was reduced (-34%) by islet transplantation and the observed mild kidney damage of diabetic rats was prevented. Conclusions/interpretation: Besides controlling glycaemia, transplantation of microencapsulated pancreatic islets induced almost complete regression of neuropathy and prevented cardiovascular alterations.
- Cardiovascular disease
- Islet transplantation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism