Methods have been developed for the preparation of suspensions of viable rat pancreatic islet cells and their analysis and sorting in the fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS III or IV). Histograms of cell number versus light scattering in a near forward angle (1–15°) demonstrated that viable islet cells produce a broad peak that is distinctly separated from the peaks generated by exocrine cells, erythrocytes, and nonviable cells. Electron microscopic examination and radioimmunoassay of hormone content in fractions collected across the peak showed that glucagon-containing (A) cells scatter less intensely and are concentrated within the left side of the islet cell peak, while somatostatin-containing (D) cells are localized to the far right side, indicating a higher intrinsic light scattering property of the D-cells. The more abundant insulin-containing (B) cells define the center of the islet cell peak. Sodium dodecyl sulfate slab gel electrophoresis and radioautography of 35S-methionine labeled cellular proteins confirmed that sorted cells are viable. Cells from the far left region contained increased amounts of labeled 18 Kd proglucagon and its 13-Kd and 10-Kd conversion intermediates, while cells from the right side were relatively enriched in labeled 12.5 Kd prosomatostatin. These results demonstrate that intrinsic light scattering alone can be used to prepare A- or D-cell enriched fractions from islets for biochemical analysis.

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