Diabetic nephropathy is the leading cause of kidney failure in the United States. Poor glycemic control, hypertension, and smoking have been implicated as risk factors for the development and progression of diabetic nephropathy in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus. Improved medical therapy including angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and tight glycemic control with use of intensive insulin therapy have been shown to reduce the progression of diabetic nephropathy substantially based on albumin excretion rates. Despite these improvements in medical management, many patients still experience progression from early diabetic nephropathy to end-stage renal disease. Successful pancreas transplantation leads to normal glycemic controls in patients with type 1 diabetes, but historically it has generally been limited to patients with both kidney failure and diabetes. In this review of the current treatment of diabetic nephropathy, we examine the potential role of preemptive pancreas transplantation in patients with diabetic nephropathy.
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