Unique basement membrane structure of human pancreatic islets: implications for b-cell growth and differentiation

Otonkoski T., Banerjee M., Korsgren O., Thornell L.-E., Virtanen I.Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, 2008

The authors showed that in the human islets, a double BM structure surrounding each blood vessel within the islet. In addition, a continuous peri-islet BM was surrounding the entire islet, invaginating into the islet tissue together with the arterioles. The capillaries are surrounded by a double BM both in fetal and adult tissues. The B-cells are facing a BM that is separate from the endothelia, unlike the situation in mouse where the B-cells interact directly with BMs of capillary endothelial cells. Here they show that (i) a1 is not expressed in the adult human pancreas; (ii) a2 is only expressed in the exocrine pancreas; (iii) a4 is expressed in the blood vessel BMs; (iv) a5 and b1 are expressed similarly, both in the endocrine and endothelial BMs in the islets. Taken together, this suggested that there is a double-layered BM organization around the vascular channels of human islets: the inner vascular leaflet of the duplex contains Lms-411/421 and -511/521 whereas the outer leaflet facing the parenchymal endocrine cells contains only Lm-511. In contrast to the adult pancreas, a laminin a1 chain could be found in the acinar BMs of the fetal pancreas and faintly also in the developing islets. Similarly, as in the adult pancreas, immunoreactivity for laminin a5 chain was distinctly surrounding the developing islets and also in BMs of intra-islet vessels. Strong expression of laminin B1 and g1 in the fetal pancreas.  a3 and b1 integrin subunits were found both on the vascular channels and the endocrine cells. However, the integrin a6 subunit was clearly absent from the endocrine cells and only expressed in the endothelial cells. The islet cells facing this BM have a strong and polarized expression of Lutheran glycoprotein, which is a well-known receptor for the laminin a5 chain. Dispersed human islet cells adhere to purified human laminin-511 and the binding is equally effectively blocked by a soluble form of Lutheran as by antibody against integrin B1. The results reveal that the BM structure of human islets, different from rodents.