Find us on Social Media:

Pancreatic Islet Cell Transplantation
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Pancreatic Islet Cell Transplantation?

Islet cells are the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Pancreatic islet cell transplantation is the transfer of islet cells from a donor to another person. The procedure is being studied as a method to treat chronic pancreatitis or type 1 diabetes .

The Pancreas
The Pancreas
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Pancreatic islet cells are made up of alpha and beta cells. Type 1 diabetes develops when the beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed. They are destroyed by the body's own immune system. Without these cells, the body is unable to make insulin (needed to make glucose). As a result, people with type 1 diabetes need daily insulin injections.

Though still experimental, newly transplanted islet cells can produce insulin. After one to two islet cell infusions, some patients are able to stop taking insulin for a while.

Possible Complications

If you are planning to have a transplant, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Toxicity from immunosuppressive agents
  • Injury to the liver or the pancreas
  • Cholesterol problems
  • Sensitization—The recipient may form antibodies to future islet cells for repeat transplant.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Worsening of kidney function
  • Worsening of high blood pressure

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Bleeding disorders

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling,...