Isolation and Culture of Rhesus Monkey Pancreatic Ductules and Ductule-like Epithelium

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Abstract

Summary

The objective of this work was to devise methods for the isolation and culture of duct epithelium from rhesus monkey pancreas with the expectation that such methods would be applicable to the human pancreas. This objective is important because of the role duct epithelium appears to play in human diseases such as pancreatic cancer and cystic fibrosis. Pieces of freshly procured pancreas were minced and enzymatically dissociated, resulting in a digest that contained a few isolated ductules (intralobular ducts) as well as numerous small tissue fragments consisting of roughly equal proportions of ductular and acinar cells. These fragments were suspended in a rat tail collagen gel and cultured for up to 2 weeks in a medium supplemented with cholera toxin, epidermal growth factor, and other additives. A few cystic ductular fragments were initially observed among a large number of predominantly solid fragments. Later, most of the solid fragments also became cystic and eventually resembled the ductules except for being spherical. Autoradiographic analysis of DNA synthesis showed that the cysts possessed a proliferative potential. The cysts consisted almost entirely of ductule-like epithelium with no recognizable acinar cells, and exhibited greatly reduced concentrations of the acinar marker enzymes amylase, chymotrypsin, and y-glutamyl transferase. In contrast, the specific activity of the duct marker enzyme carbonic anhydrase was elevated in freshly isolated digests compared with the whole pancreas and this elevated activity was maintained for 4–5 days of culture, after which it declined. Other evidence for the ductular nature of the cysts was their low density relative to freshly isolated acinar tissue, their ability to distend (suggestive of fluid/ electrolyte secretion), and the accumulation of mucins at the apical borders of the cells. The results show that fragments of rhesus monkey pancreas that are enriched in ductular epithelium assume some of the properties of ductular cells when cultured in a collagen gel. These epithelial preparations should facilitate biochemical and physiological studies of this important pancreatic cell type.

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