Transplantation of the pancreas or islet of Langerhans

Adresse

Switzerland

Christian Toso
Professor
Christian Toso
Head of Division

When the pancreatic cells that produce insulin (the the islets of Langerhans ) are destroyed, the production of this hormone becomes insufficient. This hormonal deficit leads to type-1 diabetes. Indeed, the main role of insulin is the absorption of sugar by the body and the regulation of glycemia . This decreased sugar transportation to the cells has multiple consequences on health, including irreversible damage to kidneys and other organs.

When transplantation of the pancreas or islets of Langerhans becomes necessary

The standard care for type-1 diabetes involves regular insulin injections, to normalize the blood sugar levels . However, for some people with severe diabetes, transplantation of the whole pancreas or injection of islets of Langerhans into the liver allows to obtain a better regulation of blood sugar and improve survival.

Such transplanted organs, which require lifelong treatment with immunosuppressive drugs , may be combined with a kidney transplant in case of simultaneous kidney failure caused by diabetes. The transplantation of pancreas and islets of Langerhans is performed by the Transplantation Division.

Insulin
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Hormone which regulates the level of sugar in the blood
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Cells producing insulin
Glycemia
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Blood sugar levels in the blood
Immunosuppressive drugs
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Drugs that prevent the immune system from seeing the transplant as “foreign” and destroying it (rejection).

More information

Last update : 04/01/2022