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About Pancreas

    I am pancreas, situated in upper left of your abdomen. I am right behind the stomach and next to the posterior abdominal wall. I am flat and look like a cooked pig’s tongue. I have a head, a body and a tail. My head is round and thick and it is wrapped inside the duodenum, and closely connected with the bottom of the common bile duct (where your bile flows into the duodenum). My body is flat and wide, and right next to the posterior abdominal wall; my tail is narrow and sharp, and close to the hilum of spleen.

    It is my job to secrete two kinds of substances that are critical to humans – exocrine and endocrine.

    Exocrine: I secrete approximately 700-1500 ml pancreatic juice every day, which is discharged into the duodenum through the pancreatic duct and serves for digestion. There are multiple digestive enzymes in the pancreatic juice, including:


 Amylopsin: An enzyme that doesn’t need bile in the duodenal juice to be activated; and it is active as soon as it is secreted and it may decompose the starch in the food (polysaccharide) into maltose (monosaccharide) for intestinal absorption.
    Pancrelipase: An enzyme that can only be functional after being activated by the bile. It may decompose the starch in the food into glycerinum and fatty acid for intestinal absorption.
    Trypsin and chymotrypsin: These two enzymes can only be functional after being activated by the bile too. It may decompose the protein in the food into micro-molecule polypeptide and amino acid for body absorption. Because there are digestive enzymes of three major substances in the pancreatic juice (fat, protein and carbohydrate), which makes the pancreatic juice one of the most important digestive juices. When there is insufficient pancreatic juice secretion, the fat and protein in the food cannot be entirely digested and absorbed even though all other digestive juices are normal, and people’s life may be at stake due to serious lack of nutrients.

    Endocrine: Endocrine is secreted by the pancreas islets around my body. There are nearly 1-2 million pancreas islets and account for 1% - 2% of my total body weight. Pancreas islets are mainly located in the head which include the following cells:

    α cells: Approximately 20% of all islet cells which secrete pancreatic glucagon to increase blood sugar. The secretion of pancreatic glucagon rises whenever the blood sugar is low in order to increase the blood sugar.
    β cell: Approximately 75% of all islet cells which secrete insulin. The secretion of insulin rises whenever the blood sugar is high in order to decrease the blood sugar.
    α1 cell: Cells that secrete gastrin which stimulates parietal cells to secrete hydrochloric acid, and it also stimulates chief cells to secrete pepsinogen to help digestion;

    δ cell: Cells that secrete growth hormones which directly apply on histocytes all over the human body to increase the volume and number of cells in order to promote physical growth. Besides, they impose influence on bones and metabolism.

    Diseases such as diabetes, increased plasma lipids and dyspepsia can be easily caused if pancreatic endocrine is abnormal.