Changes in pancreatic acinar cells during protein deprivation

J Cell Biol. 1962 Feb;12(2):313-27. doi: 10.1083/jcb.12.2.313.


After 10 days of a protein-free diet the acinar cells of the rat pancreas showed a coarsening of nuclear matrix, depletion of zymogen granules, some loss of ribosomes, and a widening of the spaces between ergastoplasmic membranes. In addition, there could be found, but rarely, a lesion of the ergastoplasm consisting of vacuoles of agranular, disoriented membranes, which was similar to a lesion produced by ethionine. Thereafter, a return toward normal structure occurred which was characterized by beginning increase in the size of the Golgi apparatus at 12 days, appearance of zymogen granules at 18 days, and a relatively normal appearing but smaller cell at 28 days. After 10 to 12 days of protein deprivation a reversal of many of the morphologic effects of protein deprivation was accompanied by a return toward normal of some pancreatic enzyme activities. Possibly this spontaneous return toward normal levels represented a raiding of protein stores, or it may have been an adaptive phenomenon.

MeSH terms

  • Acinar Cells*
  • Animals
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum*
  • Ethionine*
  • Golgi Apparatus*
  • Pancreas / pathology*
  • Protein Deficiency*
  • Proteins*
  • Rats
  • Ribosomes*
  • Vacuoles*


  • Proteins
  • Ethionine