Regression of diabetic complications by islet transplantation in the rat

A. Remuzzi, R. Cornolti, R. Bianchi, M. Figliuzzi, C. Porretta-Serapiglia, N. Oggioni, V. Carozzi, L. Crippa, F. Avezza, F. Fiordaliso, M. Salio, G. Lauria, R. Lombardi, G. Cavaletti

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2653-2661
Number of pages9
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Islet transplantation
  • Nephropathy
  • Neuropathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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    Remuzzi, A., Cornolti, R., Bianchi, R., Figliuzzi, M., Porretta-Serapiglia, C., Oggioni, N., Carozzi, V., Crippa, L., Avezza, F., Fiordaliso, F., Salio, M., Lauria, G., Lombardi, R., & Cavaletti, G. (2009). Regression of diabetic complications by islet transplantation in the rat. Diabetologia, 52(12), 2653-2661.