Minimally invasive islet transplantation for patients with type 1 diabetes achieves insulin independence and reverses the progression of atherosclerosis in the first few years after transplant, according to a University of Illinois at Chicago study.
The research is published in the February issue of the journal Diabetes Care and is available online.
Patients with diabetes, particularly women, have a substantial increased risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, according to previous research. However, future cardiac events may be prevented with intensive glycemic control.
In the current longitudinal study, UIC researchers looked at changes over time in carotid intima-media thickness, or CIMT -- a marker for atherosclerosis -- in a group of type 1 diabetes patients without kidney disease or previous cardiovascular events.
"This is the first study to look at what happens to diabetes-related cardiovascular complications after islet cell transplantation alone without kidney transplant," said Kirstie Danielson, assistant professor in the UIC College of Medicine and School of Public Health, and lead author of the study, who noted that previous research has focused on metabolic changes and glycemic control after transplant.
The 15 adults (two men and 13 women) suffered from type 1 diabetes for more than five years and had hypoglycemic unawareness despite best efforts to manage insulin levels. The patients received a total of 27 islet transplants (one to three transplants each) and were followed from one to five years after their first transplant. CIMT was measured before and approximately every 12 months after the first islet transplant.