The Gross and Microscopic Structure of the Pancreas and Its Endocrine and Exocrine Functions

The Gross and Microscopic Structure of the Pancreas and its Endocrine and Exocrine Functions

As stated by Innerbody (2013),   the pancreas is a   glandular organ providing two distinct functions. Both as a digestive exocrine gland and a hormone producing endocrine gland
(Innerbody, 2013). It is situated in an inferior position to the stomach as illustrated in Fig.1, with the largest part of the pancreas, the Head positioned against the Duodenum of the small intestine. It extends towards the left, narrowing to form the body of the pancreas, with the tail extending to its narrowest point (Fig.1) where it sits adjacent to the spleen. It is made up of glandular tissue that surround multiple small ducts as shown in Fig.1. These drain into the central pancreatic duct. When eating the pancreas’ exocrine tissues releases digestive fluids into the the duodenum, via the pancreatic duct where it is mixed with bile from the liver; rich in enzymes to break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates; Sodium Bicarbonate is also released to neutralise the acid from the stomach and allow the enzymes to catalyse (BBC Science & Nature, 2014). The pancreas’ part in homeostasis is to monitor levels of blood glucose with its endocrine tissue secreting antagonistic hormones glucagon and insulin, to raise blood glucose levels in the case of glucagon by stimulating the liver to release glucose into the blood, and lower it in the case of insulin by stimulating the absorption of glucose into the liver (Innerbody, 2013). This essay will discuss the structure and arrangement of the cellular components of the pancreas, relating this to its function as both an exocrine and endocrine gland in the human body.

The pancreas is described as a heterocrine gland as it contains both endocrine and exocrine tissue; exocrine tissue making up the majority of the pancreas, with endocrine tissues making up only 1% (Innerbody, 2013). Exocrine tissues make up the pancreatic acinar cells labelled in Fig.2...