, Volume 55, Issue 12, pp 3152-3154

First online:

Islet nerves in focus—defining their neurobiological and clinical role

  • B. AhrénAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Sciences, Lund University Email author 


Although it is well established that the pancreatic islets are innervated by autonomic nerves, the detailed islet innervation pattern is still unclear. In this issue of Diabetologia (DOI: 10.​1007/​s00125-012-2699-6) novel details of the islet neuroanatomy and its plasticity in experimental diabetes are described. By using a 3-dimensional (3-D) imaging technique, it has been shown that, in islets from normal mice, sympathetic nerves mainly form a neurovascular complex in addition to innervating peripherally located islet alpha cells. There are also pronounced changes in islet neuroanatomy in experimental diabetes. These findings suggest novel neural–islet regulatory mechanisms as well as neural involvement in the development of diabetes, and therefore advance both basic and clinical knowledge of islet neurobiology.


Autonomic nerves Islets Neurobiology NOD mice Peripheral nerves Streptozotocin-induced diabetes Sympathetic nerves