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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the location and structure of the pancreas, and the morphology and function of the pancreatic islets
  • Compare and contrast the functions of insulin and glucagon

The pancreas    is a long, slender organ, most of which is located posterior to the bottom half of the stomach ( [link] ). Although it is primarily an exocrine gland, secreting a variety of digestive enzymes, the pancreas has an endocrine function. Its pancreatic islets    —clusters of cells formerly known as the islets of Langerhans—secrete the hormones glucagon, insulin, somatostatin, and pancreatic polypeptide (PP).

Pancreas

This diagram shows the anatomy of the pancreas. The left, larger side of the pancreas is seated within the curve of the duodenum of the small intestine. The smaller, rightmost tip of the pancreas is located near the spleen. The splenic artery is seen travelling to the spleen, however, it has several branches connecting to the pancreas. An interior view of the pancreas shows that the pancreatic duct is a large tube running through the center of the pancreas. It branches throughout its length in to several horseshoe- shaped pockets of acinar cells. These cells secrete digestive enzymes, which travel down the bile duct and into the small intestine. There are also small pancreatic islets scattered throughout the pancreas. The pancreatic islets secrete the pancreatic hormones insulin and glucagon into the splenic artery. An inset micrograph shows that the pancreatic islets are small discs of tissue consisting of a thin, outer ring called the exocrine acinus, a thicker, inner ring of beta cells and a central circle of alpha cells.
The pancreatic exocrine function involves the acinar cells secreting digestive enzymes that are transported into the small intestine by the pancreatic duct. Its endocrine function involves the secretion of insulin (produced by beta cells) and glucagon (produced by alpha cells) within the pancreatic islets. These two hormones regulate the rate of glucose metabolism in the body. The micrograph reveals pancreatic islets. LM × 760. (Micrograph provided by the Regents of University of Michigan Medical School © 2012)

View the University of Michigan WebScope at (External Link)  to explore the tissue sample in greater detail.

Cells and secretions of the pancreatic islets

The pancreatic islets each contain four varieties of cells:

  • The alpha cell    produces the hormone glucagon and makes up approximately 20 percent of each islet. Glucagon plays an important role in blood glucose regulation; low blood glucose levels stimulate its release.
  • The beta cell    produces the hormone insulin and makes up approximately 75 percent of each islet. Elevated blood glucose levels stimulate the release of insulin.
  • The delta cell    accounts for four percent of the islet cells and secretes the peptide hormone somatostatin. Recall that somatostatin is also released by the hypothalamus (as GHIH), and the stomach and intestines also secrete it. An inhibiting hormone, pancreatic somatostatin inhibits the release of both glucagon and insulin.
  • The PP cell    accounts for about one percent of islet cells and secretes the pancreatic polypeptide hormone. It is thought to play a role in appetite, as well as in the regulation of pancreatic exocrine and endocrine secretions. Pancreatic polypeptide released following a meal may reduce further food consumption; however, it is also released in response to fasting.

Regulation of blood glucose levels by insulin and glucagon

Glucose is required for cellular respiration and is the preferred fuel for all body cells. The body derives glucose from the breakdown of the carbohydrate-containing foods and drinks we consume. Glucose not immediately taken up by cells for fuel can be stored by the liver and muscles as glycogen, or converted to triglycerides and stored in the adipose tissue. Hormones regulate both the storage and the utilization of glucose as required. Receptors located in the pancreas sense blood glucose levels, and subsequently the pancreatic cells secrete glucagon or insulin to maintain normal levels.

Questions & Answers

type 2 is controled by diet
Chloe Reply
Diet and life style
Paias
Diet how? maybe eating food containing less sugar?
BTS
what is hypotension
regina Reply
hypotension is when the blood pressure is less than 60/50
Mursal
hypo means low so it implies low blood pressure
Isaac
ok
Mursal
what is mild DKA
Mursal
mild diabetic ketoacidosis is when there is high level of sugar in the blood and the ketone bodies build up in the body ,is a type 1 which can lead to type 2
Isaac
what is the normal range for blood pressure?
BTS
120 over 80
Danielle
low blood pressure; opposite of high blood pressure which is hypertension
Regina
what if your a type 2 diabetic and you have no way to get meds due to no insurance what is some good over the counter medications to take?
Ashley
type 2 diabets is controlled by diet not meds.type 1 is contolled by insulin.
Chloe
type 1 diabets cant be controlled type 2 can be controlled.type 1 is worse than type 2 diabets.
Chloe
type 2 is purely a lifestyle disease, eat healthy, fresh, natural unprocessed real foods.
Danielle
sometime , we already eat diabetic diet than the results of blood sugar level not turn good , what is the reason ?
Muhammad
What is a "diabetic diet" though? Be specific. Juvenile diabetes and/or Type 1 diabetes is something that one can be born with, this needs medical diagnosis and intervention.
Danielle
what i mean by diabetic diet is we take fiber-rich food like vegetables,nut and also fish.
Muhammad
ok, no cause a doctor told me I needed metformin and my suger won't go under 300
Ashley
what is the difference between plasma and serum
Gloria Reply
Plasma contains fibrinogen while serum doesn't
Kateregga
plasma ----- fibrinogen = serum
Sneha
In what time stomach empty it's content in to doudemun? what is chyme?
Sneha Reply
write the chemical and mechanical digestion which occurs in stomach?
Sneha
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Sneha
Chemical digestion---Mixtures of the food with the gastric acid Mechanical digestion--- churning of the food in the stomach making it become more involved into chyme
Mercy
absorption takes place in the small intestine because of the presence of the villi
Enada
name the muscles supplied redina nerve
Appu Reply
mechanism of hormone releasing by gland
said Reply
why is muscle tissue not considered to be a type of connective tissue?
Ezel Reply
A Skeletal muscles consist of numerous muscles cells called Muscle Fibers . Three layers of connective tissues surrounded these fibers to make the muscles tissues
Manisha
that's wny connective tissues is not considered as muscles fibers
Manisha
there are 4 types of tissues : epithelial, connective tissue, nervous tissue and muscle tissue, each one has its own properties. The main function of connective tissue is nutrition, it supplies nutrientes to epithelial tissues that are responsible for protection.
Ariete
Muscle tissue has properties that allow movement, the function here is movement and not nutrition like connective tissue.
Ariete
In what time stomach empty it's content in to doudemun?
Sneha
write the chemical and mechanical digestion which occurs in stomach?
Sneha
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Sneha
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are the absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Sneha
mechanism of hormone controlling releasing by gland
said
please can someone explain renin angiotensin aldosteron system for me
okolie
name the joint present between epichysif and diachysif
JAYKISHAN Reply
what is arteries
JAYKISHAN
oxygenated blood carrying vessels
Karanpreet
I think oxygenated blood carrying pulmonary vein
Omaryare
ya this stetment is right 4 pulmonary vein carrying the oxygenated blood
Sneha
What is the relation between cold and clammy skin and disorders that cause poor perfusion?
Tyrone Reply
name the instruments used to measure the gas volume and flow in pulmonary function test
Preethi Reply
Spirometer
Ravi
In a spirometry test, While you are sitting, you breath into a mouthpiece that is connected to an instrument called a spirometer . The spirometer records the amount and the rate of air that you breath in and out over a period of time. When standing, Some numbers might be slightly different.
Ravi
tq soo much
Preethi
u most wlcm
Ravi
what is signal transduction?
Bahle
Signal Transduction (Also know as cell signaling) is the transmission of molecular signal from a cell exterior to its interior.Signals receive by cells must be transmitted effectively into the cell to ensure an appropriate response. This step is initiated by cell - surface receptors.
Ravi
i know now didn't know
Cypline
that's great respond
Feng
what is histological anatomy?
Thelma Reply
what is histological anatomy?
Thelma
the study of form of structure seen under the microscope
Metinah
is the branch of biology which studies the microscopic anatomy of biological tissues.
Jeffrey
it's the study of the microscopic anatomy of cells and tissues in the plants and it's carried out by examining a thin slice of tissues under a microscope light / or an electronic microscope
Manisha
is the study of anatomy in a microscopic level
simon
thank you
Thelma
what are the significance differrences can be donated between the female and male skeleton..
charles
What is Ions and Ionic bonds
Ravi Reply
2 less stable atoms
Hope
Ionic bonding is the complete transfer of valence electron(s) between atoms. It is a type of chemical bond that generates two oppositely charged ions. In ionic bonds, the metal loses electrons to become a positively charged cation, whereas the nonmetal accepts those electrons to become a negatively
Hope
what is osmosis
Brown Reply
it's out Body Fluid.
Sa
high pressure to low pressure flow
Sneha
Osmosis is the movement of solvent from a region of lower solute concentration to a region of higher solute concentration through a semi- permeable membrane.
Ravi
how many types of tissue
ABBAKARR Reply
4, that is muscle tissue, connective, nerve and epithelial tissue
Mapesho
We have four types of tissue these are ,epithelial tissue,nerve tissue,muscle tissue and connective tissue
Samboat
function of labia minora
temba
why is a graph of plasma [glucose] superimposed
Sefai Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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