Fission of pancreatic islets during postnatal growth of the mouse

P A Seymour, W R Bennett, J M W Slack

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26 Citations (SciVal)


A cell composition analysis was made of the pancreatic islets in postnatal H253 mice. This line has a lacZ insertion on the X chromosome so that in female hemizygotes 50% of cells should be positive for beta-galactosidase and 50% negative. Immediately after birth, the islets were of a heterogeneous cell composition. However, by 4 weeks some islets have become homogeneous. This suggests that islets progress towards monoclonality in a similar way to the intestinal crypts and stomach gastric glands. Pancreatic islets may therefore represent 'structural proliferative units' in the overall histological organization of the pancreas. Reduction of genetic heterogeneity might arise from cell turnover, fission of islets or both. Analysis of the cell composition of the X-inactivation mosaic mice also provides the first clear evidence for islet fission in pancreatic development. Irregularly shaped islets resembling dumb-bells, with a characteristic neck of alpha-cells, were observed with decreasing frequency with increasing age. Three-dimensional reconstruction confirmed their resemblance to conjoined islets. The cell composition analysis showed: (1) the relatedness of the two sides of a dumb-bell islet is significantly higher than between two non-dumb-bell islets and (2) the relatedness of two randomly selected islets decreases as the distance between them increases. This suggests that dumb-bell islets are in a state of fission rather than fusion, and that islet fission is a mode of islet production in the postnatal pancreas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-116
Number of pages14
JournalJournal Of Anatomy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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