Projects per year
Background information. Prolonged copper deprivation in rats followed by refeeding with a normal diet has previously been used to induce the appearance of hepatocyte-like cells in the pancreas, but the effects on islet size and morphology have not been determined.
Results. In the present study we investigated the distribution of pancreatic alpha- and beta-cells and of hepatocytes in adult rats fed a copper-deficient diet followed by refeeding with a normal diet. Immunohistochemical staining for insulin and glucagon showed that the islets of the copper-deficient group were up to 2.4 times larger in mass compared with controls. The islets were disorganized, with cc-cells found in multiple layers at the periphery of the islet and sometimes deep in the core. Isolated alpha- and beta-cells were also found in increased numbers in the ductular system. Copper deprivation caused almost complete ablation of the acinar cells, and refeeding induced adipogenesis, acinar regeneration and hepatocyte-like cells. Ductular proliferation and nerve hyperplasia were also present. The hepatocytes tended to be associated with islets or with ducts, rather than with residual pancreatic exocrine tissue.
Conclusions. These data show that copper deficiency in rats, as well as inducing the appearance of hepatocytes, is capable of causing islet hyperplasia.