Nerve growth factor (NGF) induces morphological and physiological changes in cultured pancreatic β-cells, including the extension of neurite-like processes. This latter effect is potentiated by dibutyryl cAMP (dbcAMP). β-cells cultured under these conditions maintain their immunoreactivity to insulin and gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA). NGF, dbcAMP, and high glucose concentrations also increase the expression of the GABA-synthesizing enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase-65 in cultured β-cells. The aim of this work was to study the effect of NGF alone or in combination with dbcAMP on pancreatic β-cell ultrastructural morphology, after 10 days in culture. We used light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy to analyze the modifications in cell surface and neurite-like projections. Morphometric analysis showed that NGF and/or dbcAMP treatment substantially increased the insulin and GABA content in granules and rough endoplasmic reticulum. Given that pancreatic β-cells express NGF receptors and that NGF is synthesized and secreted by β-cells, these results further suggest that NGF could have trophic actions on pancreatic hormone synthesis and/or storage.
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Cell Biology