1987 Volume 50 Issue 5 Pages 557-566
A method for scanning electron microscope (SEM) study of reticular fibers in their original shapes and locations is described. This technique was employed to demonstrate the three-dimensional organization of the reticular fibers of the human pancreas. The cellular elements were effectively removed by treatment of the tissue pieces with a 10% aqueous solution of NaOH for 3-4 days at room temperature. Thin layers of the reticular fibers surrounding the acini and ducts formed a three-dimensional interstitial compartment. The reticular fiber sheaths for the blood vessels coursed through the compartment. In the lobule, there were scattered round or oval capsules for the islets of Langerhans. The capsule also consisted of reticular fibers. Within the capsule, reticular fiber sheaths for accommodating islet capillaries, representing the pericapillary spaces, formed a threedimensionally anastomosing network. The channels for the capillaries ensheathed by the reticular fibers in the islet were continuous with those in the surrounding exocrine pancreas; thus, the insulo-acinar portal system was confirmed to exist in the human pancreas. This study also maintains that the present method is useful for examining the microvascular organization of the islet.