Using immunohistochemistry and linear scanning, a morphometric analysis was made of the composition of the rat endocrine pancreas at sequential intervals after combined injections of streptozotocin (SZ) and nicotinamide (NA). One week after treatment, the volume of islet tissue was significantly higher than that of the corresponding, saline-injected controls, probably as the result of acute hyperplasia of insulin- and somatostatin-positive cells. However, at all time periods thereafter (6, 20, and 36 weeks), the drug-treated rats showed decreased islet volumes compared to controls. Analysis of aggregate (total) volumes of hormone producing cells at various time periods after drug treatment indicated that decreases in insulin (B-cell) volumes only partially accounted for the observed changes in total islet volume. There were, in addition, early decreases in glucagon (A-cell) and increases in somatostatin (D-cell) volumes. The results suggest that SZ/NA treatment caused limited islet B-cell destruction and transient changes in the proportions of islet A and D cells. Microscopic endocrine tumors were observed at 20 weeks, and both gross and microscopic tumors were observed 36 weeks after SZ/NA treatment. When islet and tumor tissues were included in computation, aggregate volumes of insulin and somatostatin-positive cells were markedly increased, with no significant changes in glucagon-positive cell volumes compared to controls, indicating that the tumors were rich in B and D cells, but poor in A cells. These results are discussed in relation to changes in glucose tolerance and serum insulin levels, and to islet cell volumes following treatment with a diabetogenic dose of streptozotocin alone.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The excellent technical assistance of J. D. Wobken and K. J. Berg is gratefully acknowledged. We thank R. Andrich for typing the manuscript. The investigation was supported by NIH Grant AM