Sabita Rakshit, B.S., M.S., Research Associate, UM Cancer Center
The pancreas is both an endocrine gland and exocrine gland. The Islets of Langerhans (endocrine portion) secrete important hormones like insulin and glucagon into the blood to control the level of circulating glucose. The acinar cells (exocrine portion) secrete digestive enzymes into the intestine to help in food digestion. Normally, tightly packed acinar cells make up most of the pancreas. However, in type II diabetes, the pancreas may become infiltrated with fat cells. This histological section of a genetically modified mouse pancreas shows a few acinar cells (the blackish-brownish spider-like structures) completely surrounded by a web of fat cells (large empty spaces). The blue roundish structures are the nuclei of the acinar cells. The mouse is a powerful model system for the study of human pancreatic disease.