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Dev Dyn. 1994 Jun;200(2):163-75.

Growth dynamics of pancreatic islet cell populations during fetal and neonatal development of the rat.

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Department of Pediatrics, Case Western University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106.


Rats from 18 days fetal to 28 days neonatal ages were studied for the total population sizes and cell proliferation activities of insulin secreting B cells, glucagon secreting A cells, somatostatin secreting D cells, and pancreatic polypeptide secreting PP cells. Cell population sizes were assessed by morphometric quantitation of immunohistochemically stained cells by a linear scanning method and cell proliferation activities were estimated by [3H]-thymidine labeling indices of these cell populations. There was a continuous increase in population sizes for all 4 islet cell types, with the fastest increase occurring in the last 4 days of gestation. The accelerated growth of these islet cell populations during late gestation was accomplished by a high cell proliferative activity at 20-22 days of gestation and a large influx of undifferentiated epithelial cells differentiating into the specific islet cell populations during this period. There was a reduction of population growth and cell proliferation for all islet cell types during the first 3-4 days of life. Growth activities continued for all islet cell populations after the 4th postnatal day, with a renewed acceleration in growth activities for B and A cells at this time. After the 10th neonatal day, the cell proliferation and total population growth continued at slow rates for all 4 islet cell types. The contribution from undifferentiated epithelial cells into the specific islet cell populations was negligible for B and A cells but continued at a low rate for PP and D cells during the first 10 days after birth. For B and A cell populations, there was a possibility that some cell loss occurred during the first 10 days of neonatal life. These dynamic changes of the growth characteristics provide a basis for understanding the abnormal growth of the endocrine pancreas.

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