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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2006;38(5-6):710-4.

The pancreatic islet endothelial cell: emerging roles in islet function and disease.

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Department of Medical Cell Biology, Biomedical Center, Uppsala, Sweden.


The pancreatic islets are one of the most vascularized organs of the body. This likely reflects the requirements of the organ for a rich supply of nutrients and oxygen to the tissue, as well as the need for rapid disposal of metabolites and secreted hormones. The islet endothelium is richly fenestrated to facilitate trans-endothelial transport of secreted hormones, has a unique expression of surface markers, and produces a number of vasoactive substances and growth factors. The islet endothelial cells play a critical role in the early phase of type 1 diabetes mellitus by increasing the expression of surface leucocyte-homing receptors, thereby enabling immune cells to enter the endocrine tissue and cause beta-cell destruction. Following transplantation, pancreatic islets lack a functional capillary system and need to be properly revascularized. Insufficient revascularization may severely affect the transport properties of the islet endothelial system, resulting in a dysfunctional islet graft.

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