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

Plate 15.291 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 15.291 Pancreas

Human, Helly's fluid, Mallory-azan stain, 612 x.


The islets of Langerhans were described by Paul Langerhans, a German physician, anatomist, and pathologist, in 1869. Although in routine histological preparations all of the islet cells appear to be similar, special methods reveal three types, alpha, beta, and delta.

Delta cell: Few in number compared to alpha or beta cells. Significance not well understood. Cytoplasm stains blue with Mallory-azan.

Beta cell: More numerous than alpha or delta cells. Produce insulin. Insulin increases cellular uptake of glucose and its conversion to glycogen. Beta cells may occur outside the islets. Granules are diffusely scattered in cytoplasm.

Pancreatic duct: Found interlobular connective tissue, lined by cuboidal to columnar epithelium. Size varies Collagen: In the interlobular connective tissue. Stains dark blue with Mallory-azan.

Alpha cells (not seen in this preparation) secrete the hormone glucagon, which effects the breakdown of liver glycogen and elevates the blood glucose level.  

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