What is islet transplantation for diabetes?


To treat type 1 diabetes, there is an experimental procedure called islet transplantation available. Islet cells are insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. When these cells are transplanted from a healthy pancreas, it reduces dependency on insulin treatments. In extreme cases, a pancreas transplant may be recommended. Stem cell transplants are also being studied as an additional treatment option.

Some researchers believe that when a virus infects a body, it might somehow change the structure of the antigens on the surface of the islet cells. If this occurs, then the altered antigen might appear to be foreign to the immune system, and a person’s own insulin-producing islet cells might be destroyed.

Islet transplantation is a procedure that involves moving the islets from a donor pancreas into a person whose pancreas has stopped producing insulin. Beta cells in the islets make the insulin that the body needs for using blood glucose.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

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