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Anatomy Atlases: Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 1 - Cells Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 15 - Endocrine Glands

Plate 15.290 Pancreas

Ronald A. Bergman, Ph.D., Adel K. Afifi, M.D., Paul M. Heidger, Jr., Ph.D.
Peer Review Status: Externally Peer Reviewed

Islet of Langerhans

Plate 15.290 Pancreas

Rhesus monkey, Helly's fluid, H. & E., 612 x.


Islet: Pale-staining area demarcated by arrows. Contains irregular clumps of cells. Separated from the acinar cells by a thin partition of reticular tissue. This endocrine gland elaborates the hormones insulin and glucagon, which are secreted into the rich capillary bed and carried via the portal system of veins into and through the hepatic lobules before reaching the general circulation. Insulin and glucagon constitute an important system for the regulation of blood glucose levels. This endocrine organ is essential for life. Dysfunction results in diabetes mellitus, a common disorder of man, characterized in its uncontrolled and most severe form by polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (excessive water intake), hyperglycernia (elevated glucose level in blood), glycosuria (sugar in the urine), ketonuria (ketones in the urine), acidosis (inability to buffer the blood at pH 7.2 to 7.4), wasting of the body and, if not treated, coma and death.

Acinar cells: Darker staining, irregular cells. Rich in cytoplasmic ribonucleic acid (RNA). Elaborate digestive enzymes, which are carried to, and are active in, the duodenum. Pancreatic enzymes break down partially digested food from the stomach into simple compounds. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are hydrolyzed by the enzymes amylase, lipase, and various proteases (including the nucleoproteases) secreted by the acinar cells.  

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