Somatostatin is produced by gastrointestinal endocrine cells that have long, nonluminal, cytoplasmic processes. Such processes terminate on other cell types, including gastrin-producing and hydrochloric acid-producing cells, whose functions are profoundly affected by somatostatin. The findings suggest that somatostatin cells control the functions of other cells through local release of the peptide by way of cytoplasmic processes. Also, certain other types of gastrointestinal endocrine cells have similar cytoplasmic prolongations, which may have analogous local (paracrine) regulatory functions.

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