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Acta Histochem Cytochem. 2012 Feb 29;45(1):65-75. doi: 10.1267/ahc.11052. Epub 2012 Feb 15.

Temporal and Spatial Cellular Distribution of Neural Crest Derivatives and Alpha Cells during Islet Development.

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Department of Anatomy, The Jikei University School of Medicine, 3-25-8 Nishishinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-8461, Japan.


Recent studies have revealed that signals from neural crest (NC) derivatives regulate the mass, proliferation, and maturation of beta cells in developing fetal pancreas. However, little is known about the cellular distribution of NC derivatives during pancreatic development or the process whereby the developing islets are enclosed. We studied the temporal and spatial distribution of NC derivatives and endocrine cells at each developmental stage. At embryonic day 10.5 (E10.5) of mouse embryo, NC derivatives that migrated to the prospective pancreatic region were distributed in close proximity to pancreatic epithelial cells. As development advanced, most NC derivatives progressively surrounded endocrine rather than exocrine cells, and were distributed in closer proximity to alpha cells rather than to beta cells. At E20, approximately 70% of the NC derivatives enclosing endocrine cells were distributed in close proximity to alpha cells. Moreover, the expression of SynCAM, a Ca(2+)-independent homophilic trans-cell adhesion molecule, was confirmed from E16.5 on and was more remarkable at the cell boundaries of alpha cells and NC derivatives. These findings suggest that NC derivatives might be distributed in close proximity to alpha cells as a result of homophilic binding of SynCAM expressed by alpha cells and NC derivatives during islet development.


CADM-1 (SynCAM); alpha cells; islet development; neural crest

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