Secretory granule formation in pancreatic acinar cells is known to involve massive membrane flow. In previous studies we have undertaken morphometry of the regranulation mechanism in these cells and in mast cells as a model for cellular membrane movement. In our current work, electron micrographs of pancreatic acinar cells from ICR mice were taken at several time points after extensive degranulation induced by pilocarpine injection in order to investigate the volume changes of rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER), nucleus, mitochondria and autophagosomes. At 2-4 h after stimulation, when the pancreatic cells demonstrated a complete loss of granules, this was accompanied by an increased proportion of autophagosomal activity. This change primarily reflected a greatly increased proportion of profiles retaining autophagic vacuoles containing recognisable cytoplasmic structures such as mitochondria, granule profiles and fragments of RER. The mitochondrial structures reached a significant maximal size 4 h following injection (before degranulation 0.178 ± 0.028 μm3; at 4 h peak value, 0.535 ± 0.109 μm3). Nucleus size showed an early volume increase approaching a maximum value 2 h following degranulation. The regranulation span was thus divided into 3 stages. The first was the membrane remodelling stage (0-2 h). During this period the volume of the RER and secretory granules was greatly decreased. At the intermediate stage (2-4 h) a significant increase of the synthesis zone was observed within the nucleus. The volume of the mitochondria was increasing. At the last step, the major finding was a significant granule accumulation in parallel with an active Golgi zone.
- Endoplasmic reticulum
- Zymogen granule synthesis