The centroacinar cells lie at the junction of the secretory acinus and its associated terminal ductal epithelium. The main body of centroacinar cells is typically less than 10 micron in diameter, with minimal cytoplasm and a high nuclear-to-cytoplasmic ratio.
A number of studies have indicated that centroacinar and terminal duct cells comprise the exclusive domain of active Notch signaling in the adult mouse and zebrafish pancreas.
Controversy remains as to whether centroacinar and terminal duct cells represent two different cell types or are functionally equivalent. One hypothesis claims that multiple cell types may be located in a centroacinar position.
Due to a paucity of centroacinar cell-pecific markers, as well as an incomplete understanding of possible cellular heterogeneity among cells residing in the centroacinar position, no consensus has been reached regarding the developmental origins of the centroacinar cells.