The pancreas is an elongated gland, yellow / pink, part of the digestive system.
Young to reach a weight of about 80 to 100 g – weight which decreases with age – while the overall length is about 15 cm.
The pancreas has two main functions:
- Production of Endocrine insulin, glucagon and somatostatin
- exocrine secretion of digestive enzymes, water, bicarbonates
The pancreas produces insulin and glucagon, two different hormones that interfere in maintaining the balance of the correct glucose in the opposite direction.
glucagon-producing cells are called alpha cells, while those that produce insulin are called beta cells.
Depending on the amount of sugar in the blood – that is, the pancreas produce glicemia- either hormone.
example after meals, the insulin from the pancreas, which promotes the passage of the sugar in the blood and peripheral tissues product thus sugar information in the blood to normal levels; but if you are fasting for a few hours, the level of sugar in the blood have minimum values and pancreatic glucagon has the opposite effect of hypoglycemia; in the manufacture of both hormones, the other is blocked.
Essential in the assimilation process that the pancreas produces digestive enzymes that are released into the duodenum and allow cleavage and absorption of food. Very important is the fact that these enzymes are active (eg, able to cleave and absorb nutrients) after its entry into the duodenum (the reverse is true organ self-digestion, such as pancreatitis occurred in certain diseases!) Thanks to some substances trigger the action.
In practice, the pancreas, the digestive enzymes produced inactive (called zymogens) become “inactive” in the duodenum and here through a substance called duodenal enterokinase is “on”, so that food intake.