Key words Pancreas
Muscardinus avellanarius (Rodentia)
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Pancreatic acinar cells of euthermic, hibernating and arousing individuals of the hazel dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius (Gliridae) have been observed at the electron-microscopic level and analysed by means of ultrastructural morphometry and immunocytochemistry in order to investigate possible fine structural changes of cellular components during periods of strikingly different degrees of metabolic activity. During hibernation, the cisternae of the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) flatten assuming a parallel pattern, the Golgi apparatus is extremely reduced and the mitochondria contain many electron-dense particles. The cell nuclei appear irregularly shaped, with deep indentations containing small zymogen granules. They also contain abundant coiled bodies and unusual constituents, such as amorphous bodies and dense granular bodies. Large numbers of zymogen granules occur in all animals. However, the acinar lumina are open and filled with zymogen only in euthermic animals, whereas, in hibernating and arousing individuals, they appear to be closed. Morphometrical analyses indicate that, in pancreatic acinar cells, nuclei and zymogen granules significantly decrease in size from euthermia to hibernation, probably reflecting a drastic decrease of metabolic activities, mainly protein synthesis and processing. In all the studied animals, immunocytochemistry with specific antibodies has revealed an increasing gradient in α-amylase content along the RER-Golgi-zymogen granule pathway, reflecting the protein concentration along the secretory pathway. Moreover, during deep hibernation, significantly larger amounts of α-amylase accumulate in RER and zymogen granules in comparison to the other seasonal phases analysed. Upon arousal, all cytoplasmic and nuclear constituents restore their euthermic aspect and all morphometrical and immunocytochemical parameters exhibit the euthermic values, thereby indicating a rapid resumption of metabolic activities.
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