EVER SINCE the discovery of von Mering and Minkowski1 that pancreatectomy causes diabetes, the endocrine function of the pancreas has been the subject of extensive study by pathologists, physiologists, and clinicians. Opie2 first demonstrated pathological changes in the islets of Langerhans in diabetes mellitus, and the hormone insulin was named3 long before its isolation by Banting and Best.4 It has since been proved conclusively that the only source of insulin within the body is the beta cells.* However, there are present within the pancreatic islets additional cell types, apparently of secretory nature, whose functional status is unknown.
At the turn of the century the only distinguishing characteristic of the insular system was thought to be its lack of zymogen granules. At that time, several investigators independently observed specific granules in these cells and differentiated more than one type.† In 1907 Lane11 described differences in the solubility of the granules of
VOLK BW, LAZARUS SS, GOLDNER MG. ALPHA CELLS OF PANCREAS —MORPHOLOGIC AND PHYSIOLOGIC CONSIDERATIONS: A Review. AMA Arch Intern Med. 1954;93(1):87–106. doi:10.1001/archinte.1954.00240250097008
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