The pancreas is a vital organ, but little is discussed about it compared with heart, liver or brain. It’s the only organ that belongs to both the digestive and endocrine systems, having 2 functions: developing digestive ferments and hormones – insulin and glucagon that regulate blood sugar levels.
Here are some things about pancreas that you need to know:
1. The pancreas is located in the abdominal cavity, below the stomach, transversely, between the duodenum and spleen, and has a head, body and tail.
2. After the liver, pancreas is the second largest gland in the digestive system and is a vital organ without which we can’t live.
3. Hormones secreted by the pancreas are involved in the control of intermediary metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins.
4. The pancreas is the main organ involved in digestion of carbohydrates and lipids.
5. Its structure contains islands of endocrine secretory cells: A cells (20%) that secrete glucagon; B cells (60-70%) that secrete insulin; D cells (10%) that secrete somatostatin (a neurohormone which regulates the activity of others) and F cells that secrete pancreatic polypeptide, whose function is uncertain, but it seems that it maintains local homeostasis.
6. Insulin is an anabolic hormone containing 51 amino acids. Insulin acts in the liver and stimulates the synthesis of proteins and lipids.
7. The glucagon is a protein catabolic hormone consisting of 29 amino acids. It has an antagonistic role for insulin and influences the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
8. Pancreatic enzymes involve the digestion of food through the pancreatic juice, consisting in a mixture of enzymes and aqueous solution rich in sodium bicarbonate.
9. Most popular pancreatic enzymes are extracted from the pancreas of animals, especially pork or beef, and are administered as pills, capsules, powder, helping digest meals rich in lipids and proteins, especially in patients with gallstones, duodenal and pancreatic diseases.
10. Acute or chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer are exocrine pancreas diseases, while diabetes is a deficiency of the endocrine pancreas.