Overview - The pancreas is the only organ with both endocrine and exocrine purposes. It has functions in two of the body systems: <ul><li>Digestive: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Secretes buffers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Secretes pancreatic enzymes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Endocrine: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Secretes insulin </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Secretes glucagon </li></ul></ul>The pancreas is posterior to the stomach, occupying a small portion of the upper right quadrant but mainly located in the upper left quadrant. Six to ten inches in length, the pancreas is a long, spongy gland organ.
Role in the Digestive system: <ul><li>The pancreas is connected to the duodenum , the first part of the small intestine. The major pancreatic duct merges with the common bile duct (from the gallbladder) and both empty their secretions through the duodenal wall at the minor duodenal papilla. </li></ul><ul><li>About 95% of the pancreas is exocrine tissue which, in a healthy adult, produces about a liter of digestive enzymes a day. When food enters the duodenum, a water-like alkaline fluid called a buffer is secreted to neutralize the acidic chyme pumped out by the stomach. </li></ul><ul><li>Pancreatic enzymes are responsible for chemical digestion. Proteins are digested by trypsin and chymotrypsin, amylase digests carbohydrates, and lipase breaks down fats. </li></ul>Amylase enzyme
Role in the Endocrine System: <ul><li>The endocrine functions of the pancreas are performed by hundreds of thousands of cells called islets of Langerhans . These cells, named after German anatomist Dr. Paul Langerhans, form grape-like clusters and are responsible for the secretion of hormones into the bloodstream. </li></ul>Secreted by pancreatic beta cells, insulin signals the body to remove glucose from the bloodstream, therefore lowering blood sugar levels. This happens after meals, when new carbohydrates are absorbed by the body. This process is important for cellular respiration, in which cells require glucose. Glucagon is secreted by pancreatic alpha cells and performs the opposite function of insulin. It causes glycogen stored in the liver to be broken back down into glucose, which is then released into the bloodstream to raise blood sugar. This occurs during the beginning of hard exercise or if a meal has not been eaten for several hours. In these instances, the body needs more sugar to function.
Diseases of the Pancreas: <ul><li>Pancreatitis: </li></ul><ul><li>Acute or chronic inflammation of the pancreas. Can occur when the main pancreatic duct is blocked by a gallstone or tumor, resulting in an accumulation of pancreatic juices which can lead to autolysis of the organ. </li></ul><ul><li>Acute pancreatitis is very serious and will include symptoms such as severe stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, and tenderness and swelling in the abdominal area. </li></ul><ul><li>Chronic pancreatitis is essentially acute pancreatitis reoccurring over a long period of time, resulting in damage to the pancreas. Will include the symptoms of diabetes, jaundice, and chronic pain in the upper abdomen and back. </li></ul>
Diseases of the Pancreas, continued: <ul><li>Type 1 Diabetes: </li></ul><ul><li>This type of diabetes occurs when the pancreatic beta cells are no longer able to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar. While normally diagnosed as an autoimmune disease in adolescence, adults can acquire the disease due to destruction of the pancreas through alcoholism, disease, or surgical removal. </li></ul><ul><li>Type 2 Diabetes is not a disease caused by the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin, but instead of the body’s inability to use the insulin produced. </li></ul><ul><li>Diabetics must regulate their blood sugar and inject insulin often. </li></ul>
Review: <ul><li>The pancreas is a gland organ located behind the stomach with roles in both the endocrine and digestive systems. </li></ul><ul><li>It secretes buffers to help digest chyme, and enzymes to help break down molecules in food. </li></ul><ul><li>Insulin and glucagon are secreted by the pancreas in order to control blood sugar levels. </li></ul><ul><li>Problems with the pancreas can result in diabetes or pancreatitis. </li></ul>