Angioarchitecture of the atrophic pancreas

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The pancreas has a complex vasculature which comprises both exocrine and endocrine structures. Copper deficiency induces highly selective acinar cell degeneration and progressive noninflammatory lipomatosis in pancreas while Langerhans islets, ducts, and nerves remain unaffected. Pancreatic vasculature was examined in rats that had dietary copper deficiency to characterize changes in the angioarchitecture of the gland. This model was used to assess the degree to which the vasculature of non-acinar components of the gland are potentially altered under conditions of exocrine atrophy. Ultrastructure of pancreas was examined by histology, enzyme histochemistry and immunohistochemistry, corrosion casting and scanning electron microscopy, in situ vascular staining, microsphere injection, biochemical analysis, and morphometry in copper-deficient rats. Results show that no acute angiopathic changes indicative of vascular disorganization accompany atrophy. Only a reduction in the complexity of the capillary beds, which normally vascularize the dense acinar parenchyma, was found. Microsphere quantitation also showed that blood flow to the lipomatous gland remains intact. Furthermore, analysis of the angioarchitecture of the atrophied pancreas supports a largely autonomous blood supply to islets and ducts. These observations support the hypothesis that while the vasculature of the atrophied gland is modified in vascular regions severely targeted by acinar necrosis, the overall structural features of the angioarchitecture are preserved. The atrophied gland thus provides an experimental model to study the vascular routes supplying islet and ductal blood flow within the complex pancreatic circulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)520-542
Number of pages23
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Jun 1 1997


  • Blood flow
  • Copper deficiency
  • Corrosion casting
  • Lipomatosis
  • Pancreatic vasculature

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