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Neuroscience. 2007 Dec 12;150(3):592-602. Epub 2007 Oct 11.

Pancreatic innervation in mouse development and beta-cell regeneration.

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University of California, San Francisco, Diabetes Center, San Francisco, CA 94143-0540, USA.


Pancreatic innervation is being viewed with increasing interest with respect to pancreatic disease. At the same time, relatively little is currently known about innervation dynamics during development and disease. The present study employs confocal microscopy to analyze the growth and development of sympathetic and sensory neurons and astroglia during pancreatic organogenesis and maturation. Our research reveals that islet innervation is closely linked to the process of islet maturation-neural cell bodies undergo intrapancreatic migration/shuffling in tandem with endocrine cells, and close neuro-endocrine contacts are established quite early in pancreatic development. In addition, we have assayed the effects of large-scale beta-cell loss and repopulation on the maintenance of islet innervation with respect to particular neuron types. We demonstrate that depletion of the beta-cell population in the rat insulin promoter (RIP)-cmyc(ER) mouse line has cell-type-specific effects on postganglionic sympathetic neurons and pancreatic astroglia. This study contributes to a greater understanding of how cooperating physiological systems develop together and coordinate their functions, and also helps to elucidate how permutation of one organ system through stress or disease can specifically affect parallel systems in an organism.

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