Hasselby JP, Maroun LL, Federspiel BH, Vainer B. Ghrelin in the fetal pancreas – a digital quantitation study. APMIS 2011.
Ghrelin is a hormone produced by specialized neuroendocrine cells located in the fetal pancreas. In the adult, ghrelin has multiple effects, but in the fetus the role of ghrelin and the distribution of ghrelin-producing cells is not well documented. The aim of this study was to describe and quantitate the number of ghrelin positive cells in the pancreas during gestation. The material consisted of pancreatic tissue from 19 fetuses at different gestational ages. Immunohistochemical staining was performed, and the expression was quantitated using an automated digital image analysis system. The results showed ghrelin-producing cells as scattered single cells in ductular structures and acini throughout the gestation. From midgestation they were also found in the periphery of the islets as a rim of cells. A tendency towards a high ghrelin expression during early gestation and a stable expression from midgestation to term was observed. In conclusion, the effects of fetal ghrelin are not fully understood, but the varying distribution of ghrelin positive cells indicates different effects of ghrelin during development.