Somatostatin—Another Pancreatic Islet Hormone

  • John E. Gerich
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 124)


Pancreatic islets contain at least six different types of endocrine cells (Table 1). In most species A, B, and D cells comprise more than 75% of the islet cell mass. A and B cells secrete glucagon and insulin, respectively, and their role in substrate homeostasis is well established. Although D cells were first described shortly after the discovery of A and B cells (Bensley, 1911), much less is known about them and their function. Initially, the D cell was thought to be merely an intermediary
Table 1

Endocrine Cells of Mammalian Islets of Langerhans

Cell type

Secretory product


Percent islet cell mass














Pancreatic polypeptide




Vasoactive intestinal peptide







Modified from Revised Wiesbaden Classification: Rendic. Gastroenterol. (1973) 5: 13–16

Table 2

Staining Characteristics of Pancreatic A, B, and D Cells


A cell

B cell

D cell



dark blue


Phosphotungstic acid hematoxylin

dark grey


pale lilac

Heidenhains azan




Aldehyde fuchsin-triehome




Silver impregnation









a. antiglucagon




b. antiinsulin




c. antisomatostatin




form of A cell due to the poor resolution of A and D cells with stains used to study islet morphology and to the fact that argyrophilic islet cells were mistakenly considered A cells (Takahashi, 1927).


Pancreatic Islet Insulin Release Pancreatic Polypeptide Glucagon Secretion Gastric Inhibitory Polypeptide 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • John E. Gerich
    • 1
  1. 1.Diabetes and Metabolism Research Laboratory, Departments of Medicine and PhysiologyMayo Medical School and Mayo ClinicRochesterUSA

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