The pancreatic islets of Langerhans are highly vascularized micro-organs that play a key role in the regulation of blood glucose homeostasis. The specific arrangement of endocrine cell types in islets suggests a coupling between morphology and function within the islet. Here, we established a line-scanning confocal microscopy approach to examine the relationship between blood flow and islet cell type arrangement by real-time in vivo imaging of intra-islet blood flow in mice. These data were used to reconstruct the in vivo 3D architecture of the islet and time-resolved blood flow patterns throughout the islet vascular bed. The results revealed 2 predominant blood flow patterns in mouse islets: inner-to-outer, in which blood perfuses the core of β cells before the islet perimeter of non–β cells, and top-to-bottom, in which blood perfuses the islet from one side to the other regardless of cell type. Our approach included both millisecond temporal resolution and submicron spatial resolution, allowing for real-time imaging of islet blood flow within the living mouse, which has not to our knowledge been attainable by other methods.
Lara R. Nyman, K. Sam Wells, W. Steve Head, Michael McCaughey, Eric Ford, Marcela Brissova, David W. Piston, Alvin C. Powers