Human pancreatic innervation is of particular interest due to its possible role in the pathogenesis of such diseases as diabetes mellitus, pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Despite the clinical importance, data concerning pancreatic innervation during human ontogeny and in various disorders are very limited. In this chapter, we present a review on human pancreatic autonomic innervation on the basis of the literature data and our previous results. Special attention is paid to the innervation of the endocrine pancreas. Gradual branching of neural network was seen during human pancreatic development. Innervation of the foetal pancreas is more abundant than in adults. In agreement with previous observations, we have revealed a close integration and similarity between endocrine cells and nervous elements in the developing human pancreas. Moreover, simultaneous interactions between the nervous system components, epithelial cells and endocrine cells were detected in the pancreas during prenatal human development. It has been suggested that pancreatic innervation plays an important role not only in regulation of endocrine and exocrine activity but also in normal islet morphogenesis.
Part of the book: Autonomic Nervous System