Immunohistochemical and ultrastructural study of adult porcine endocrine pancreas during the different steps of islet isolation

Research paper by M. C. Vantyghem, J. Kerr-Conte, F. Pattou, M. H. Gevaert, C. Hober, A. Defossez, M. Mazzuca, J. C. Beauvillain

Indexed on: 01 Nov '96Published on: 01 Nov '96Published in: Histochemistry and cell biology


Treatment of diabetes mellitus by transplantation of isolated pancreatic islets could constitute an alternative to human pancreas allograft. Before transplantation, porcine islets are submitted to a procedure of isolation and purification. The quality of islets through these different steps may be assessed by morphological and functional studies. The aim of this work was the histological characterization of the four main cell types of porcine adult endocrine islets during the different steps of the isolation procedure using immunohistochemistry (IHC) applied in light (LM) and electron microscopy (EM). In fresh pancreas, islets were various sizes and shapes in LM. The number was not found different between the different portions of the pancreas. In IHC, insulin (Ins)-secreting cells accounted for the majority of the islet cells, while glucagon(Glu)-somatostatin (Som)- and polypeptide(PP)-immunoreactive cells, in decreasing number, were found in the mantle around the core of Ins-cells. In EM, B-cells contained polyhedric granules with a dense central core and clear halo. Glu granules were spherical and very dense. D-cells and PP-cells were characterized by numerous granules, rather spherical and of inequal density for Som and more ellipsoidal for PP granules. After purification in Euroficoll, in EM, the four cellular types remained recognizable, but underwent vacuolization, mitochondrial swelling, and enlargment of intercellular speces. After 3 days of culture on plastic dishes, as on Biopore membranes in a Millicell insert, microvilli appeared and vacuolization increased in EM. At the seventh day of culture, in EM, most of the cells were lysed in contrast to LM where at the same time, the four cell types were clearly identified by IHC but only in collagen matrix. Important discrepancies were noticed between LM and EM. This fact emphasizes the complementarity of morphological and functional studies in assessment of the quality of an islet isolation.