OBJECTIVES: Mutation in the Pkhd1 gene that encodes a ciliary protein, fibrocystin, causes multiple cysts in the kidneys and liver in the polycystic kidney (PCK) rat, a model for human autosomal recessive PCK disease. To clarify the role of primary cilia in the pancreatic duct, we examined the structure and function of the exocrine pancreas of PCK rats. METHODS: Pancreatic juice and bile were collected from anesthetized rats. Pancreatic ductal structure was analyzed by microdissection and immunohistchemistry. RESULTS: Histologically pancreatic acini were apparently normal, and no cysts were detected in the pancreas. Larger pancreatic ducts were irregularly dilated with enhanced expression of AQP1 in epithelial cells. The pancreatic duct of PCK rats exhibited significantly (P < 0.05) higher distensibility than that of wild-type (WT) rat at a physiological luminal pressure (3 cm H2O). Pancreatic fluid secretion stimulated with a physiological dose of secretin (0.03 nmol/kg per hour) in PCK rats was significantly smaller than that in WT, but the differences were not significant at higher doses. The amylase responses to carbamylcholine were not different between PCK and WT rats. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that fibrocystin/primary cilia-dependent mechanisms may play a role in the regulation of pancreatic ductal structure and fluid secretion.
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