• pancreas;
  • lymphatic system;
  • islets of Langerhans;
  • guinea pig;
  • mouse;
  • rat


The lymphatic network of the pancreas has been little investigated and recent studies have provided contrasting data. This research is aimed to supply the morphologic basis to outline the involvement of the lymphatic system in pancreatic pathology. Guinea pigs, rats, and mice were anesthetized with ether and sacrificed with the same anesthetic. Pieces of pancreas were processed for transmission electron microscopy. Semithin sections were observed by light microscopy and, after positive identification by transmission electron microscopy, lymphatics were followed with long series of consecutive sections to define their distribution. Lymphatics were detected in the pancreas of all the animals both in the inter and the intralobular sites. Closer relations with the exocrine parenchyma (ducts and acini) were observed in guinea pig pancreas. Remarkably, interesting relationships between lymphatics and endocrine tissue were observed in all the animals. Overall, however, the lymphatic network of rat pancreas was less develop and preferentially associated with blood vessels. The distribution of the pancreatic lymphatic network appears consistent with an active role in pancreatic pathology. Anat Rec 263:155–160, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.