February 26, 2024

Paul Langerhans and his eponym “Islet of Langerhans”

  • May 17, 2012
  • 2 min read
Paul Langerhans and his eponym “Islet of Langerhans”


Paul Langerhans (25/7/1847 to 20/7/1888) was a German pathologist, physiologist and biologist. He studied the pancreas and noticed unique polygonal cells within the parenchyma of the pancreas. He provided a detailed description of microscopic pancreatic structures. He did not know the significance of these cells at the time of his research. In 1893, the French histologist, G.E. Laguesse, discovered that the polygonal-shaped cells were the endocrine cells of the pancreas that secreted insulin, to be distinguished from the exocrine cells, which secrete digestive enzymes. Laguesse named these endocrine cells the Islets of Langerhans.


Islet of Langerhans, irregularly shaped patches of endocrine tissue are located within the pancrease. They consist of 4 distinct cell types, of which 3 (alpha, beta, and delta cells) produce important hormones; the 4th component (C cells) has no known function. The common islet cell, beta, produces isulin, the major hormone in the regulation of carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. The release from the beta cells can be triggered by somatotropin or glucagon, but the most important stimulator of insulin release is glucose. The inability of the islet cells to make insulin or the failure to produce amounts sufficient to control blood glucose level is the cause of diabetes mellitus.

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