Indexed on: 01 Feb '96Published on: 01 Feb '96Published in: Pediatric Research
The reg gene characterized in the exocrine pancreas has been found to be expressed in regenerating islets of 90% depancreatized rats and not in normal islets. In humans, it was identified only in the exocrine pancreas. Because the reg protein has been found to be related to islet cell replication and/or beta cell regeneration, we compared the expression of the reg gene with that of chymotrypsinogen of exocrine origin and insulin of endocrine origin. We investigated the expression of the three pancreatic genes in the fetal pancreas during human development using dot-blot analysis. The levels of expression of the corresponding mRNAs did not appear to undergo great changes between the 17th and the 29th wk of gestation. Nevertheless, the fetal mRNA levels for reg and chymotrypsinogen were below that of the adult, with very low levels of reg gene expression in more than half of the studied pancreases. In contrast, the insulin mRNA levels were significantly higher in fetal than in adult pancreases, suggesting that insulin may function as a growth factor during fetal development. Our results indicate that no correlation between reg and insulin gene expression exists in the fetal pancreas during the developmental period studied but, on the contrary, such a correlation was present in the adult pancreas.