Structure and Function: Pancreas

The pancreas has two functions. It plays a major role in digestion, releasing enzymes that break down fat, starch, and proteins through the pancreatic ducts into the intestine. It also contains clusters of cells, called islets of Langerhans, that secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream. These cells secrete insulin and glucagon, two hormones that regulate glucose levels in the body, and other digestive hormones.

Structure of the pancreas

The pancreas is an elongated gland that contains clusters of hormone-producing cells and enzyme-secreting cells.

Pancreatic hormones

Insulin and, to a lesser extent, glucagon maintain a stable level of glucose in the body. Both of these hormones are produced by cells in the pancreas.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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