Islet cell transplantation can cure type 1 diabetes (T1D), but only a minority of recipients remains insulin-independent in the following years. We tested the hypothesis that allograft rejection and recurrent autoimmunity contribute to this progressive loss of islet allograft function. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Twenty-one T1D patients received cultured islet cell grafts prepared from multiple donors and transplanted under anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) induction and tacrolimus plus mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) maintenance immunosuppression. Immunity against auto- and alloantigens was measured before and during one year after transplantation. Cellular auto- and alloreactivity was assessed by lymphocyte stimulation tests against autoantigens and cytotoxic T lymphocyte precursor assays, respectively. Humoral reactivity was measured by auto- and alloantibodies. Clinical outcome parameters--including time until insulin independence, insulin independence at one year, and C-peptide levels over one year--remained blinded until their correlation with immunological parameters. All patients showed significant improvement of metabolic control and 13 out of 21 became insulin-independent. Multivariate analyses showed that presence of cellular autoimmunity before and after transplantation is associated with delayed insulin-independence (p = 0.001 and p = 0.01, respectively) and lower circulating C-peptide levels during the first year after transplantation (p = 0.002 and p = 0.02, respectively). Seven out of eight patients without pre-existent T-cell autoreactivity became insulin-independent, versus none of the four patients reactive to both islet autoantigens GAD and IA-2 before transplantation. Autoantibody levels and cellular alloreactivity had no significant association with outcome. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: In this cohort study, cellular islet-specific autoimmunity associates with clinical outcome of islet cell transplantation under ATG-tacrolimus-MMF immunosuppression. Tailored immunotherapy targeting cellular islet autoreactivity may be required. Monitoring cellular immune reactivity can be useful to identify factors influencing graft survival and to assess efficacy of immunosuppression.
|Number of pages||10|
|Publication status||Published - 2008|
- cellular islet autoimmunity
- cell transplantation