Ultrastructural analysis, zinc transporters, glucose transporters and hormones expression in new world primate (Callithrix jacchus) and human pancreatic islets

Daisy Mohanasundaram, Chris Drogemuller, John Brealey, Claire F. Jessup, Clyde Milner, Chiara Murgia, Carol J. Lang, Austin Milton, Peter D. Zalewski, Graeme R. Russ, Patrick T. Coates

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22 Citations (Scopus)


The New world primates (NWP) Callithrix jacchus separated from man approximately 50. million years ago and is a potential alternative small non-human primate model for diabetes research. Ultrastructure, and gene expression of pancreatic islets and the recently described diabetes auto antigenic zinc transporters families in human, NWP and pig pancreas were studied. Morphologically NWP islets were larger than pig islets and similar in size to human islets. NWP islets alpha cells had high dense core surrounded by a limiting membrane, beta cells by the mixed morphology of the granule core, and delta cells by moderate opaque core. Antibody staining for insulin, glucagon, somatostatin and Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) showed that the distribution pattern of the different cell types within islets was comparable to pig and human islets. In all three species protein expression of zinc transporter ZnT8 was detected in most of the insulin producing beta cells whereas Zip14 expression was widely expressed in alpha and beta cells. In both human and NWP little or no expression of Glut2 was observed compared to Glut1 and glucokinase at the protein level, however the messenger RNA level of Glut2 was greater than Glut1 and glucokinase. In contrast all three glucose transporters were expressed in pig islets at the protein level. The expression of Zip14 in islets is reported for the first time. In conclusion NWP pancreatic islets express comparable islet cell types and distribution to humans and pigs. Importantly, marmosets have a similar glucose transporter profile to humans, making this non-endangered primate species a useful animal model for pancreatic biology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-79
Number of pages9
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Marmoset (Callithrix jacchus)
  • Pancreatic islets
  • Transporters
  • Ultrastructure
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology

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