Pancreatic islet transplantation is a cell-based therapy that provides a potential cure for type 1 diabetes mellitus. After the introduction of an automated method for islet isolation and steroid-free immunosuppressive protocols, reversal of diabetes by islet transplantation is now performed at major human medical centers around the world. Despite extensive use of animal models in islet transplantation research, practical concerns have slowed the introduction of the technique into clinical veterinary practice and only a small number of studies have reported results of transplantation in dogs with spontaneously occurring diabetes mellitus; however, recent advances in islet isolation and encapsulation may make it possible to perform islet transplantation without immunosuppression in companion animals. This review summarizes experimental and clinical studies of pancreatic islet transplantation in dogs, including future directions for cell therapy in animals with naturally occurring disease.
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