It is well known that pancreatic islets are complex structures composed of endodermally derived endocrine cells, integrated with endothelial cells and other cells, originating from the mesoderm, and innervated by nerve fibers that have a neuroectodermal origin. In our studies, we focused on the interactions between the structures of the nervous system and endocrine cells, the so-called neuro-insular complexes, in the human pancreas. In this chapter, we present our results and literature data concerning the morphological organization of neuro-insular complexes in humans and other mammals. We also discuss the possible functional role of neuro-insular complexes, such as the involvement of the nervous system in the regulation and synchronization of islet hormone secretion and the morphogenetic plasticity of the endocrine pancreas in adults, as well as in the regulation of endocrine cell proliferation and maturation during prenatal development of the pancreas.
Part of the book: Challenges in Pancreatic Pathology