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Langerhans' islands

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Clusters of cells present in the pancreas of most vertebrates. In these cell groups is produced insulin and glucagon and thus together they make up an endocrine gland. The normal human pancreas contains about 1.000.000 islets. They consist of four distinct cell types, of which three (alpha, beta, and delta cells) produce important hormones. The beta cells are found in greatest abundance and produce insulin. The fourth component (C cells) has no known function. Destruction or impairment of function of the islets of Langerhans may result in diabetes or hypoglycaemia.

In 1893 Gustave-Edouard Laguesse (1861-1927) attached the name Langerhans to the structures. Langerhans did not suggest any function for them. The book has been reprinted with an English translation by H. Morrison. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Baltimore, 1937, 5: 259-197.


  • P. Langerhans:
    Beitrag zur mikroskopischen Anatomie der Bauchspeicheldrüse.
    Inaugural dissertation. Berlin, Gustav Lange, 1869.

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