Transplant Lets Diabetics Avoid Clogged Arteries: Study

Thursday, 14 Feb 2013 04:34 PM

By Nick Tate

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Some diabetics who undergo islet transplants can give up insulin and reduce their risks of clogged arteries, a new study suggests.

In new research is published in the journal Diabetes Care, University of Illinois scientists report that the minimally invasive transplant surgery helps people with type 1 diabetes achieve insulin independence and reverses the progression of atherosclerosis in the first few years after the procedure.

"This is the first study to look at what happens to diabetes-related cardiovascular complications after islet cell transplantation alone without kidney transplant," said lead researcher Kirstie Danielson, an assistant professor in the University’s College of Medicine and School of Public Health.

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Danielson noted patients with diabetes, particularly women, face a much greater risk of dying from heart disease, often caused by atherosclerosis.

For the new study, researchers tracked 15 men and women with type 1 diabetes who received between one and three islet transplants each over a five-year period. The results showed the patients had a significant decrease in risk factors for clogged arteries, compared to pre-transplant levels. At the end of the study, 11 of the patients were insulin free, three remained on insulin but at greatly reduced doses, and one patient withdrew from the trial because of islet graft loss.

Danielson attributed the improvements to better blood-sugar control achieved through islet transplantation and better management of cholesterol.

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