Postnatal Exocrine Pancreas Growth by Cellular Hypertrophy Correlates with a Shorter Lifespan in Mammals

Shira Anzi, Miri Stolovich-Rain, Agnes Klochendler, Ori Fridlich, Aharon Helman, Avital Paz-Sonnenfeld, Nili Avni-Magen, Elizabeth Kaufman, Miriam B. Ginzberg, Daniel Snider, Saikat Ray, Michael Brecht, Melissa M. Holmes, Karen Meir, Aaron Avivi, Imad Shams, Asaf Berkowitz, A. M.James Shapiro, Benjamin Glaser, Shmuel Ben-SassonRan Kafri, Yuval Dor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Developmental processes in different mammals are thought to share fundamental cellular mechanisms. We report a dramatic increase in cell size during postnatal pancreas development in rodents, accounting for much of the increase in organ size after birth. Hypertrophy of pancreatic acinar cells involves both higher ploidy and increased biosynthesis per genome copy; is maximal adjacent to islets, suggesting endocrine to exocrine communication; and is partly driven by weaning-related processes. In contrast to the situation in rodents, pancreas cell size in humans remains stable postnatally, indicating organ growth by pure hyperplasia. Pancreatic acinar cell volume varies 9-fold among 24 mammalian species analyzed, and shows a striking inverse correlation with organismal lifespan. We hypothesize that cellular hypertrophy is a strategy for rapid postnatal tissue growth, entailing life-long detrimental effects. Anzi et al. show that postnatal pancreas growth in mice relies to a large extent on cell growth, while human pancreas growth involves only increased cell numbers. Comparative analysis of 24 mammalian species revealed a striking negative correlation between pancreatic acinar cell size and organismal lifespan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)726-737.e3
JournalDevelopmental Cell
Issue number6
StatePublished - 18 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.


  • cell size
  • exocrine pancreas
  • hyperplasia
  • hypertrophy
  • islets
  • lifespan
  • nucleolus
  • postnatal development
  • salivary glands
  • weaning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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