The pancreas is an organ that contains two types of glandular tissue:
Islets of Langerhans
(See also Overview of the Digestive System Overview of the Digestive System The digestive system, which extends from the mouth to the anus, is responsible for receiving food, breaking it down into nutrients (a process called digestion), absorbing the nutrients into... read more .)
The acini produce digestive enzymes. The islets produce hormones. The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes into the duodenum and hormones into the bloodstream.
The digestive enzymes (such as amylase, lipase, and trypsin) are released from the cells of the acini and flow into the pancreatic duct. The pancreatic duct joins the common bile duct at the ampulla of Vater, where both flow into the duodenum. The enzymes are normally secreted in an inactive form. They are activated only when they reach the digestive tract. Amylase digests carbohydrates, lipase digests fats, and trypsin digests proteins. The pancreas also secretes large amounts of sodium bicarbonate, which protects the duodenum by neutralizing the acid that comes from the stomach Stomach The stomach is a large, bean-shaped, hollow muscular organ consisting of four regions: Cardia Fundus Body Antrum read more .
Locating the Pancreas
The three hormones produced by the pancreas are
Insulin lowers the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood by moving sugar into cells. Glucagon raises the level of sugar in the blood by stimulating the liver to release its stores. Somatostatin inhibits the release of insulin and glucagon, depending on the body's needs.