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The Art in Science

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Peter Arvan, M.D., Ph.D., William K., and Delores S. Brehm Professor of Type I Diabetes Research; Professor of Internal Medicine; Professor of Molecular & Integrative Physiology; Director of the Michigan Comprehensive Diabetes Center

This is a picture of the pancreatic Islet of Langerhans. The nuclei of the islet cells are marked in blue by a dye that stains DNA. The islet is the region of the pancreas that contains endocrine or hormone-producing cells:  principally, glucagon (green) and insulin (red). There are about a million such islets in a healthy human; they are critically important in the regulation of blood glucose levels. In type 1 diabetes, the insulin-secreting cells are destroyed by the body in an auto-immune process. Islet cell transplantation is being used clinically as a way to restore these cells. Though this picture is a mouse islet, human islets are very similar in structure and function; thus, the mouse is an important model system for the study of islet disease in the human.