Administration of N-nitrosobis (2-oxopropyl)amine during peak DNA synthesis of regenerating pancreas in hamsters has been shown to induce hepatocytelike cells in pancreas. We now present evidence to demonstrate that such cells respond to methyl clofenapate, a peroxisome proliferator. The response includes a marked proliferation of peroxisomes and enhanced activity of peroxisomal enzymes enoyl-CoA hydratase (8.5- to 13-fold), [1-14C]-palmitoyl-CoA oxidation (2.8- to 3.9-fold), catalase (1.6 to 3.4-fold), and carnitine acetyltransferase (greater than 2,000-fold). Cytochemical localization of catalase by the alkaline 3,3'-diaminobenzidine procedure and immunofluorescence localization of heat-labile enoyl-CoA hydratase showed that these peroxisome-associated enzymes are localized strictly in pancreatic hepatocytelike cells, while adjacent acinar, duct, and islet cells appeared consistently negative. Morphometric analyses of hepatocytelike cells showed a significant increase in the numerical density and an eightfold increase in the volume density of peroxisomes in methyl clofenapate treated animals. These results demonstrate that the hepatocytelike cells are responsible for the observed peroxisomal enzyme activity in pancreas of hamsters and suggest that the derepressed peroxisome specific genes in these cells respond to a peroxisome proliferator as do parenchymal cells in hamster liver.

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