It is well established that repeated injections of the cholecystokinin (CCK) analogue caerulein induce pancreatic hypersecretion and growth, but so far the time-specific development of hypersecretory capacity has not been studied. Rats were given intraperitoneal injections of caerulein (1 μ g/kg) three times daily for 0-7 days. On the day after the last injection a secretory test was performed with the rats under urethane anaesthesia. Subsequently, pancreatic tissue composition was analysed. Basal and caerulein-stimulated secretion rates of fluid and trypsin were elevated after as little as 1 day of caerulein treatment. These values remained significantly greater than those of the controls after 2-7 days' administration of the peptide. Pancreatic tissue hypertrophy (increases in absolute pancreatic weight, protein and trypsin contents, and also in these values normalized to DNA) appeared after 2 days' pretreatment. Tissue growth turned to hyperplasia (increase in tissue DNA content) after 5 days' caerulein administration. We conclude that chronic administration of the CCK analogue caerulein induces adaptation of the pancreas in a sequential order. First, the hypersecretory state appears, followed by hypertrophy, and, finally, pancreatic growth turns into hyperplasia.
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