Rat pancreases were minced and treated with collagenase or collagenase supplemented with chymotrypsin to yield a mixture of ducts, islets, acinar cell clusters, blood vessels, and nerves. Histologically and ultrastructurally, the isolated tissues resembled their in situ counterparts in most respects, the major difference being the destruction of the basement membranes (basal laminae). Ducts ranging in size from the common bile/main pancreatic duct to the intercalated ducts were identified in the digest, although interlobular ducts were most frequently observed. Acinar tissue fragments were separated from nonacinar structures either by flotation through discontinuous gradients of Ficoll or by sieving, the latter technique being the more efficient. Common bile/main ducts, interlobular ducts, and blood vessels were selected manually from the nonacinar fractions. Biochemical analyses showed that the entire nonacinar fraction, as well as isolated ducts and blood vessels, contained larger alkaline phosphatase, carbonic anhydrase, and Mg-ATPase specific activities than acinar tissue, whereas acinar tissue contained larger gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase and amylase activities. However, greater than 63% of the total recovered activity of each enzyme was associated with the acinar tissue. Both the association of the majority of each of these enzyme activities with the acinar tissue and the similarity in specific activities associated with ducts and blood vessels indicate that none of the enzymes tested is a unique marker for interlobular and larger ducts of the pancreas of the rat.

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