Pancreas

Pancreas

The pancreas is an endocrine gland that also supports the digestive process. The pancreas manufactures and secretes several important hormones including insulin, glucagon and somatostatin. It also unctions as an exocrine gland, secreting pancreatic juice that passes to the small intestine to aid in digestion.

The pancreas produces its endocrine hormones in cell clusters known as the islets of Langerhans. There are four types of these cell clusters, which each produce a different hormone. Alpha cells produce lucagon (which increases glucose in the blood) and Beta cells produce insulin (which decreases glucose in the blood). As a result, the pancreas plays an important role in the metabolism and regulation of lucose in the bloodstream, both of which are important to the topic of diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which an insufficient amount of insulin is produced, or cells fail to respond to the insulin that is produced.