The Role of Accessory Cells in Islet Homeostasis.

Current Diabetes Reports
Shiue-Cheng TangMartha Campbell-Thompson


Scattered throughout the pancreas, the endocrine islets rely on neurovascular support for signal relay to regulate hormone secretion and for maintaining tissue homeostasis. The islet accessory cells (or components) of neurovascular tissues include the endothelial cells, pericytes, smooth muscle cells, neurons (nerve fibers), and glia. Research results derived from experimental diabetes and islet transplantation indicate that the accessory cells are reactive in islet injury and can affect islet function and homeostasis in situ or in an ectopic environment. Recent advances in cell labeling and tissue imaging have enabled investigation of islet accessory cells to gain insights into their network structures, functions, and remodeling in disease. It has become clear that in diabetes, the islet neurovascular tissues are not just bystanders damaged in neuropathy and vascular complications; rather, they participate in islet remodeling in response to changes in the microenvironment. Because of the fundamental differences between humans and animal models in neuroinsular cytoarchitecture and cell proliferation, examination of islet accessory cells in clinical specimens and donor pancreases warrants further attention.


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