1. <pathology> Cells of the pancreas within discrete endocrine islands (Islets of Langerhans) embedded in the major exocrine tissue of vertebrate pancreas.

The B or beta cells (originally distinguished by differential staining from A, C and D), are responsible for synthesis and secretion of insulin, a hormone that controls the level of glucosein the blood.

2. Also refers to the beta cells of the anterior lobe of hypophysis. These are a population of functionally diverse cell's that contain basophilic granules and secrete hormones such as ACTH, lipotropin, thyrotropin, and the gonadotropins.

Synonyms: basophil cell of anterior lobe of hypophysis.

(05 Mar 2000)