Electron microscope observations of degenerating and regenerating pancreas following ethionine administration

  • L. Herman
  • P. J. Fitzgerald
  • M. Weiss
  • I. S. Polevoy
Conference paper


It has been previously shown, that administration of dl-ethionine (α-amino-γ-ethylmercaptobutyric acid), an amino acid analogue of methionine, results in selective pancreatic acinar cell destruction. This is followed by a subsequent regenerative phase with almost complete restitution of the acinar cells (4, 7, 19). The progressive degenerative changes observed by light microscopy have been a decreased perinuclear basophilia : eosinophihe cytoplasm, accompanied by zymogen granule destruction; a disruption of acinar cell pattern; increased vacuolization, disintegration and removal of acinar cells. Factors such as sex (1), protein depleted diet (3, 18), methionine administration (2), animal weight, age, and dosage level of ethionine (3, 4) influence the ultimate course of degeneration and regeneration. A cursory review of the literature indicated that no electron microscope study of this biological model of degeneration and regeneration has been undertaken. A number of ultrastructure studies of normal, starved, refed, pilocarpineinjected and neutral red injected pancreas has been made (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21).

Fig. 1.

Normal rat pancreas: Parts of two acinar cells are shown. Note the ergastoplasm, (ER); nucleus, (N) with a nucleolus; and mature, normal, zymogen granules, (Z). Part ofa small capillary, (CAP), with an endothelial cell, (EN. C), appears in the upper right. 8,000 ×

Fig. 2.

Early degeneration of rat pancreas: 5 day. Note vacuoles, (V), with oval bodies, (O. B) lamellae>, (ER), and a few zymogen granules, (Z). 8,000 ×

Fig. 3.

Maximum degeneration of rat pancreas: 10 day. A cross sectional area of an acinus appears in the center. Note osmiophilic inclusions, (O. I.), surrounded by a basement membrane, (B. M..) . Some inclusions represent fused zymogen granules, others arise from ergastoplasmic membrane fusions. Just to the right of center, a shrunken distorted nucleus,(N),appears. Part of the cell in the upper left appears less disturbed. A well-preserved nucleus, (N), some swollen mitochondria, (M), and “smudged” ergastoplasmic membranes, (ER) are present. 8,000 ×


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1960

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Herman
    • 1
  • P. J. Fitzgerald
    • 1
  • M. Weiss
    • 1
  • I. S. Polevoy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pathology, Downstate Medical CenterState University of New YorkBrooklynUSA

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