BACKGROUND & AIMS - Integrin contact with basement membrane is a major determinant of epithelial cell polarity. beta1 integrin heterodimers are the primary receptors for basement membrane in pancreatic acinar cells, which function to synthesize and directionally secrete digestive enzymes into a central lumen. Aberrant acinar secretion and exposure of the parenchyma to digestive enzyme activity lead to organ damage and pancreatitis.
METHODS - beta1 integrin conditional knockout mice were crossed to Ptf1a-Cre mice to ablate beta1 integrin in the pancreas. Histopathology of aged and cerulein-treated mice were assessed by histology and immunocytochemistry. Directional secretion was determined in vitro by FM1-43 loading with cerulein stimulation.
RESULTS - Pancreas-specific ablation of beta1 integrin led to progressive organ degeneration, associated with focal acinar cell necrosis and ductal metaplasia along with widespread inflammation and collagen deposition. beta1 Integrin-null pancreata were highly susceptible to cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis, displaying an enhanced level of damage with no loss in regeneration. Degenerating beta1 integrin-null pancreata were marked by disruption of acinar cell polarity. Protein kinase C epsilon, normally localized apically, was found in the cytoplasm where it can lead to intracellular digestive enzyme activation. beta1 Integrin-null acinar cells displayed indiscriminate secretion to all membrane surfaces, consistent with an observed loss of basolateral membrane localization of Munc18c, which normally prevents basal secretion of digestive enzymes.
CONCLUSIONS - Ablation of beta1 integrin induces organ atrophy by disrupting acinar cell polarity and exposing the pancreatic parenchyma to digestive enzymes.
Copyright 2010 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.