A major operation such as a heart transplant requires considerable time to recover. A recent German study indicates that diabetes will have a detrimental effect on a person’s ability to recover from a heart transplant operation.
The study was conducted at the Technical University of Munich . Associate Professor Frank Bengel, representing the institutio, said: “Using positron emission tomography and the transplanted heart as a very specific model to study the regenerative capacity of the heart`s sympathetic nervous system, we determined reinnervation – the heart`s ability to develop new nerves to replace damaged ones – is slower in diabetic patients.”
He continued: “A better understanding of the importance of nervous system abnormalities and an imaging technique to precisely characterize nerve damage may be of value to guide future therapeutic efforts aimed at reducing cardiac risk with diabetes mellitus patients.” Bengel is now an associate professor of radiology at the John Hopkins University.
He added: “Even if a transplant recipient is suffering from diabetes, there is still a chance for reinnervation — just at a slower speed. Unfortunately, there are no techniques developed yet that speed the nerve regeneration process.”
The research is published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine .

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