Endocrine Abstracts (2009) 20 P539

Histopathologic changes in pregnant rat pancreas

Elvan Özbek & Tuba Demirci


Department of Histology and Embryology, Medical School, Atatürk University, Erzurum, Turkey.


Objective: Placental lactogen (PL) produced by the placenta stimulates lipolysis and fatty acid metabolism in the mother. PL is an anti-insulin hormon. It adjusts the metabolic state of the mother during pregnancy to make easy the energy supply of the fetus. It also reduces maternal tissue sensitivity to insulin, leading to gestational diabetes. A moderate hypertriglyceridaemia due to uncontrolled diabetes may be noticeably worsen by the gestation. As a result, acute hypertriglyceridaemic pancreatitis may occur in the pregnancy. In this study, pancreas was histopathologically examined on the pregnant rat model in order to investigate how and in what level the pancreas is affected from the gestation.

Methods: Eight adult female Sprague Dawley rats were used. Rats were divided into two equal-sized groups as a control and a pregnancy group. The precence of vaginal plug was checked to determine the first day pregnancy in the female rats mated with adult males. In the second week of pregnancy, rats were sacrificed. Pancreases removed from the control and pregnant rats were fixed in 10% formalin and embedded in parafin. The 5 μm tissue sections were stained with hematoxylin–eosin for light microscopic examination.

Results: Islets of Langerhans surrounded by extensively acidophilic stained acini were observed in the pancreas of the pregnants, but not in that of controls. Necrotic changes such as cytoplasmic swelling and nuclear condensation were present in some of these acini. Large clear vacuoles were demonstrated in some aciner cells. Additionally, pancreatic acini that were densly acidophilic stained and shrunken were also seen, suggesting apoptosis. Prominent disruption of the cellular architecture were found in such acini, indicating the cytoplasmic digestion leading to possible pancreatit. Cytoplasmic vacuolization of endocrine cells and sinusoidal dilatation were prominent in the islets of Langerhans.

Conclusions: Our data suggested evident cellular injuries in both endocrine and exocrine pancreas in the pregnant rats. In conclusion, we have thought that these histopathological changes may lead to acute pancreatit and possible gestational diabetes.

Acknowledgement: This study was supported by the 2005/183-numbered Scientific Research Fund of our University.

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