Indexed on: 10 Aug '10Published on: 10 Aug '10Published in: Gastroenterology
Secretory granules are acidic; cell secretion will therefore lead to extracellular acidification. We propose that during secretion, protons co-released with proteins from secretory granules of pancreatic acinar cells acidify the restricted extracellular space of the pancreatic lumen to regulate normal physiological and pathophysiological functions in this organExtracellular changes in pH were quantified in real time using 2-photon microscopy analysis of pancreatic tissue fragments from mouse models of acute pancreatitis (mice given physiological concentrations [10 -20 pM] of cholecystokinin or high concentrations of [100 nM] cerulein). The effects of extracellular changes in pH on cell behavior and structures were measured.With physiological stimulation, secretory granule fusion (exocytosis) caused acidification of the pancreatic lumen. Acidifications specifically affected intracellular calcium responses and accelerated the rate of recovery from agonist-evoked calcium signals. Protons therefore appear to function as negative-feedback, extracellular messengers during coupling of cell stimuli with secretion. At high concentrations of cerulein, large increases in secretory activity were associated with extreme, prolonged acidification of the luminal space. These pathological changes in pH led to disruption of intercellular junctional coupling, measured by movement of occludin and E-cadherin.By measuring changes in extracellular pH in pancreas of mice, we observed that luminal acidification resulted from exocytosis of zymogen granules from acinar cells. This process is part of normal organ function but could contribute to the tissue damage in cases of acute pancreatitis.