To evaluate the capacity of pancreatic endocrine cells to reassociate in vitro according to the characteristic topographical pattern observed in the islets of Langerhans in situ, we cultured cells dissociated from neonatal rat pancreas within a three-dimensional collagen matrix. Cell monolayers grown on the surface of collagen gels were covered with a second layer of collagen. This induced the monolayers of endocrine cells to reorganize into smooth-contoured, three-dimensional aggregates, in which non-B cells (identified by electron microscopy and immunofluorescence) had a preferential distribution at the periphery, whereas B cells were concentrated in a central position. These results show that cultured pancreatic endocrine cells have the capacity to reassociate into islet-like organoids in vitro, and that collagen matrices may have a permissive effect on the expression of this potential.

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