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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2013, Article ID 217934, 8 pages
Review Article

Homeostatic T Cell Proliferation after Islet Transplantation

San Raffaele Diabetes Research Institute, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Via Olgettina 60, 20132 Milan, Italy

Received 4 June 2013; Accepted 1 July 2013

Academic Editor: Camillo Ricordi

Copyright © 2013 Paolo Monti and Lorenzo Piemonti. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Pancreatic islet transplantation in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus is performed under immunosuppression to avoid alloreactive T cell responses and to control the reactivation of autoreactive memory T cells. However, lymphopenia associated with immunosuppression and T cell depletion can induce a paradoxical expansion of lymphocyte subsets under the influence of homeostatic proliferation. Homeostatic T cell proliferation is mainly driven by the IL-7/IL-7 receptor axis, a molecular pathway which is not affected by standard immune-suppressive drugs and, consequently, represents a novel potential target for immuno-modulatory strategies. In this review, we will discuss how homeostatic T cell proliferation can support autoimmunity recurrence after islet transplantation and how it can be targeted by new therapeutic approaches.