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The Vascular Microarchitecture of the Human Fetal Pancreas: A Corrosion Casting and Scanning Electron Microscopy Study

Gorczyca, Janusz MD, PhD; Tomaszewski, Krzysztof A. MD, PhD; Henry, Brandon Michael MD; Pękala, Przemysław Andrzej; Pasternak, Artur MD, PhD; Mizia, Ewa MD, PhD; Walocha, Jerzy A. MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/MPA.0000000000000719
Original Articles

Objectives Detailed knowledge on the development of the pancreas is required to understand the variability in its blood supply. The aim of our study was to use the corrosion casting method combined with scanning electron microscopy to study the organization of the pancreatic microcirculation in human fetuses.

Methods The study was conducted on 28 human fetuses aged 18 to 25 gestational weeks. The fetal vasculature was appropriately prepared and then perfused with a low-viscosity Mercox CL-2R resin. The prepared vascular casts of the surface of the fetal pancreas were then examined in scanning electron microscopy and digitally analyzed.

Results The lobular structure of the pancreas has a strong impact on the organization of the microvasculature. The lobular networks were supplied by the interlobular arteries and drained by the interlobular veins. The vascular system of fetal human pancreas has many portal connections, including islet-lobule and islet-duct portal circulations, which likely play a key role in the coordination of both endocrine and exocrine pancreatic functions.

Conclusions The organization of the microvascular network of the human pancreas in fetuses aged 18 to 25 gestational weeks is very similar to that of an adult but with more prominent features suggesting active processes of angiogenesis and vascular remodeling.

From the *Department of Anatomy, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Krakow, Poland.

Received for publication January 15, 2016; accepted July 12, 2016.

Address correspondence to: Krzysztof A. Tomaszewski, MD, PhD, Department of Anatomy, Jagiellonian University Medical College, 12 Kopernika St, 31-034 Krakow, Poland (e-mail:

This study was supported by statutory grants of the Jagiellonian University Medical College, and K.A.T. was supported by the Foundation for Polish Science.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

J.G. and K.A.T. have contributed equally to this study.

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