Rat pancreatic B-cells after chronic alcohol feeding. A morphometric and fine structural study

Histol Histopathol. 1995 Apr;10(2):325-37.


Quantitative analysis of the light microscopic and fine structure of rat islet B-cells was carried out in chronic alcoholism. Absolute pancreatic weight and volume were similar in groups C (control) and E (ethanol), but relative pancreatic weight in group E rat was decreased. The results for fasting blood glucose and insulin levels were similar in the two groups of animals. There was a significantly reduced total pancreatic islet volume in E rats. The total number of endocrine cells both per islet and per microns2 of islet was similar in the two groups of animals. The volume density and number of B-cells per islet and per microns2 of islet were not changed in ethanol-treated rats as compared with the control. On the other hand, diameter, surface area and volume of the B-cells and their nuclei were found to be statistically significantly decreased. Histological examination revealed that islet blood vessels were dilated in alcoholic rats. Over the 4-month period of ethanol intake a significant decrease in cell profile area, nuclear profile area and volume density of cytoplasmic granules and an increase in the profile area and volume density of endoplasmic reticulum occurred. The gross histological alteration seen in most B-cells of the ethanol-treated rats was irregularity of the nuclear envelope with deep invagination and with margination of heterochromatin and many empty granules or granules without clear electron dense crystals of insulin. The present results indicate some optical and structural abnormalities of B-cells in chronic alcoholism that may be related to cell dysfunction and may contribute, at least in part, to the endocrine pancreas functional disturbance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Diet
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Ethanol / toxicity*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Insulin / blood
  • Islets of Langerhans / drug effects*
  • Islets of Langerhans / ultrastructure*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Pancreas / drug effects
  • Pancreas / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Ethanol