Pancreas are fish shaped spongy organ in grayish pink color. It is located in the upper abdomen, adjacent to small intestine. It is an important gland in the digestive system and endocrine system. It is an endocrine and exocrine gland.

Endocrine gland

produces hormones like insulin, somatostatin and glucagon.

Exocrine gland

secretes pancreatic juice that contain digestive juices.

These help in breaking down proteins, carbohydrates and fat.

Endocrine Glands of Pancreas:

Pancreas that function with endocrine have cell clusters called “islets of Langerhans”. Islets are of four types but they cannot be distinguished by standard staining methods. They can be classified with secretion.

  1. Glucagon is secreted by α cells.
  2. Insulin is secreted by β cells.
  3. Somatostatin is secreted by δ cells.
  4. Pancreatic Polypeptide is secreted by PP cell.

Islets are collection of endocrine cells and are arranged in cords and clusters. These are crisscrossed with dense capillary networks. Islets are lined with layers of endocrine cells and are in direct contact with blood vessels.

Exocrine glands of Pancreas:

Exocrine glands secrete digestive enzymes whereas endocrine glands secrete hormones. An alkaline fluid is secreted by exocrine into small intestine through exocrine ducts. Exocrine secrete trypsin, chymotrypsin, pancreatic amylase and pancreatic lipase. Centroacinar cells secrete bicarbonate and salt solutions that line up the pancreatic ducts.

Functions of Pancreas:

  • Breaks down proteins, carbohydrates and fats by pancreatic juices along with some intestinal juices.
  • Some chemicals are produced that neutralize the stomach acids and pass through the small intestine.
  • Pancreas also secrete some juices that regulates the blood sugar levels.
  • This gland contains Islets of Langerhans that secrete
    • Glucagon:

      This raises blood sugar levels.

    • Insulin:

      This stimulates cells from using glucose

    • Somatostatin:

      Regulates the secretion of insulin and glucagon.

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