Pancreas
Overview
 
The pancreas ˈpæŋkriəs is a gland
Gland
A gland is an organ in an animal's body that synthesizes a substance for release of substances such as hormones or breast milk, often into the bloodstream or into cavities inside the body or its outer surface .- Types :...

 organ
Organ (anatomy)
In biology, an organ is a collection of tissues joined in structural unit to serve a common function. Usually there is a main tissue and sporadic tissues . The main tissue is the one that is unique for the specific organ. For example, main tissue in the heart is the myocardium, while sporadic are...

 in the digestive and endocrine system
Endocrine system
In physiology, the endocrine system is a system of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone directly into the bloodstream to regulate the body. The endocrine system is in contrast to the exocrine system, which secretes its chemicals using ducts. It derives from the Greek words "endo"...

 of vertebrate
Vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

s. It is both an endocrine gland producing several important hormone
Hormone
A hormone is a chemical released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one...

s, including insulin
Insulin
Insulin is a hormone central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle....

, glucagon
Glucagon
Glucagon, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, raises blood glucose levels. Its effect is opposite that of insulin, which lowers blood glucose levels. The pancreas releases glucagon when blood sugar levels fall too low. Glucagon causes the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose, which is...

, and somatostatin
Somatostatin
Somatostatin is a peptide hormone that regulates the endocrine system and affects neurotransmission and cell proliferation via interaction with G-protein-coupled somatostatin receptors and inhibition of the release of numerous secondary hormones.Somatostatin...

, as well as a digestive organ, secreting pancreatic juice
Pancreatic juice
Pancreatic juice is a liquid secreted by the pancreas, which contains a variety of enzymes, including trypsinogen, chymotrypsinogen, elastase, carboxypeptidase, pancreatic lipase, and amylase....

 containing digestive
Digestion
Digestion is the mechanical and chemical breakdown of food into smaller components that are more easily absorbed into a blood stream, for instance. Digestion is a form of catabolism: a breakdown of large food molecules to smaller ones....

 enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

s that assist the absorption of nutrients and the digestion in the small intestine
Small intestine
The small intestine is the part of the gastrointestinal tract following the stomach and followed by the large intestine, and is where much of the digestion and absorption of food takes place. In invertebrates such as worms, the terms "gastrointestinal tract" and "large intestine" are often used to...

. These enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

s help to further break down the carbohydrates, protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

s, and lipids in the chyme
Chyme
Chyme is the semifluid mass of partly digested food expelled by the stomach into the duodenum.Also known as chymus, it is the liquid substance found in the stomach before passing through the pyloric valve and entering the duodenum...

.
Under a microscope
Microscope
A microscope is an instrument used to see objects that are too small for the naked eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy...

, stained sections of the pancreas reveal two different types of parenchyma
Parenchyma
Parenchyma is a term used to describe a bulk of a substance. It is used in different ways in animals and in plants.The term is New Latin, f. Greek παρέγχυμα - parenkhuma, "visceral flesh", f. παρεγχεῖν - parenkhein, "to pour in" f. para-, "beside" + en-, "in" + khein, "to pour"...

l tissue.
Encyclopedia
The pancreas ˈpæŋkriəs is a gland
Gland
A gland is an organ in an animal's body that synthesizes a substance for release of substances such as hormones or breast milk, often into the bloodstream or into cavities inside the body or its outer surface .- Types :...

 organ
Organ (anatomy)
In biology, an organ is a collection of tissues joined in structural unit to serve a common function. Usually there is a main tissue and sporadic tissues . The main tissue is the one that is unique for the specific organ. For example, main tissue in the heart is the myocardium, while sporadic are...

 in the digestive and endocrine system
Endocrine system
In physiology, the endocrine system is a system of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone directly into the bloodstream to regulate the body. The endocrine system is in contrast to the exocrine system, which secretes its chemicals using ducts. It derives from the Greek words "endo"...

 of vertebrate
Vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

s. It is both an endocrine gland producing several important hormone
Hormone
A hormone is a chemical released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one...

s, including insulin
Insulin
Insulin is a hormone central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle....

, glucagon
Glucagon
Glucagon, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, raises blood glucose levels. Its effect is opposite that of insulin, which lowers blood glucose levels. The pancreas releases glucagon when blood sugar levels fall too low. Glucagon causes the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose, which is...

, and somatostatin
Somatostatin
Somatostatin is a peptide hormone that regulates the endocrine system and affects neurotransmission and cell proliferation via interaction with G-protein-coupled somatostatin receptors and inhibition of the release of numerous secondary hormones.Somatostatin...

, as well as a digestive organ, secreting pancreatic juice
Pancreatic juice
Pancreatic juice is a liquid secreted by the pancreas, which contains a variety of enzymes, including trypsinogen, chymotrypsinogen, elastase, carboxypeptidase, pancreatic lipase, and amylase....

 containing digestive
Digestion
Digestion is the mechanical and chemical breakdown of food into smaller components that are more easily absorbed into a blood stream, for instance. Digestion is a form of catabolism: a breakdown of large food molecules to smaller ones....

 enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

s that assist the absorption of nutrients and the digestion in the small intestine
Small intestine
The small intestine is the part of the gastrointestinal tract following the stomach and followed by the large intestine, and is where much of the digestion and absorption of food takes place. In invertebrates such as worms, the terms "gastrointestinal tract" and "large intestine" are often used to...

. These enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

s help to further break down the carbohydrates, protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

s, and lipids in the chyme
Chyme
Chyme is the semifluid mass of partly digested food expelled by the stomach into the duodenum.Also known as chymus, it is the liquid substance found in the stomach before passing through the pyloric valve and entering the duodenum...

.

Histology

Under a microscope
Microscope
A microscope is an instrument used to see objects that are too small for the naked eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy...

, stained sections of the pancreas reveal two different types of parenchyma
Parenchyma
Parenchyma is a term used to describe a bulk of a substance. It is used in different ways in animals and in plants.The term is New Latin, f. Greek παρέγχυμα - parenkhuma, "visceral flesh", f. παρεγχεῖν - parenkhein, "to pour in" f. para-, "beside" + en-, "in" + khein, "to pour"...

l tissue. Lightly staining clusters of cells are called islets of Langerhans
Islets of Langerhans
The islets of Langerhans are the regions of the pancreas that contain its endocrine cells. Discovered in 1869 by German pathological anatomist Paul Langerhans at the age of 22, the islets of Langerhans constitute approximately 1 to 2% of the mass of the pancreas...

, which produce hormone
Hormone
A hormone is a chemical released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one...

s that underlie the endocrine functions of the pancreas. Darker staining cells form acini
Acinus
An acinus refers to any cluster of cells that resembles a many-lobed "berry," such as a raspberry...

 connected to ducts. Acinar cells belong to the exocrine pancreas
Exocrine pancreas
The exocrine pancreas has ducts that are arranged in clusters called acini . Pancreatic secretions are secreted into the lumen of the acinus, and then accumulate in intralobular ducts that drain to the main pancreatic duct, which drains directly into the duodenum.Control of the exocrine function of...

 and secrete digestive enzyme
Digestive enzyme
'Digestive enzymes' are enzymes that break down polymeric macromolecules into their smaller building blocks, in order to facilitate their absorption by the body. Digestive enzymes are found in the digestive tract of animals where they aid in the digestion of food as well as inside the cells,...

s into the gut via a system of ducts.
Structure Appearance Function
Islets of Langerhans
Islets of Langerhans
The islets of Langerhans are the regions of the pancreas that contain its endocrine cells. Discovered in 1869 by German pathological anatomist Paul Langerhans at the age of 22, the islets of Langerhans constitute approximately 1 to 2% of the mass of the pancreas...

 
Lightly staining, large, spherical clusters Hormone
Hormone
A hormone is a chemical released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one...

 production and secretion (endocrine pancreas)
Pancreatic acini
Exocrine pancreas
The exocrine pancreas has ducts that are arranged in clusters called acini . Pancreatic secretions are secreted into the lumen of the acinus, and then accumulate in intralobular ducts that drain to the main pancreatic duct, which drains directly into the duodenum.Control of the exocrine function of...

 
Darker staining, small, berry-like clusters Digestive enzyme
Digestive enzyme
'Digestive enzymes' are enzymes that break down polymeric macromolecules into their smaller building blocks, in order to facilitate their absorption by the body. Digestive enzymes are found in the digestive tract of animals where they aid in the digestion of food as well as inside the cells,...

 production and secretion (exocrine pancreas
Exocrine pancreas
The exocrine pancreas has ducts that are arranged in clusters called acini . Pancreatic secretions are secreted into the lumen of the acinus, and then accumulate in intralobular ducts that drain to the main pancreatic duct, which drains directly into the duodenum.Control of the exocrine function of...

)

Function

The pancreas is a dual-function gland, having features of both endocrine and exocrine gland
Exocrine gland
Exocrine glands are a type of ductal glands that secrete their products into ducts that lead directly into the external environment...

s.

The part of the pancreas with endocrine function is made up of approximately a million cell clusters called islets of Langerhans
Islets of Langerhans
The islets of Langerhans are the regions of the pancreas that contain its endocrine cells. Discovered in 1869 by German pathological anatomist Paul Langerhans at the age of 22, the islets of Langerhans constitute approximately 1 to 2% of the mass of the pancreas...

. Four main cell types exist in the islets. They are relatively difficult to distinguish using standard staining techniques, but they can be classified by their secretion: α cells secrete glucagon
Glucagon
Glucagon, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, raises blood glucose levels. Its effect is opposite that of insulin, which lowers blood glucose levels. The pancreas releases glucagon when blood sugar levels fall too low. Glucagon causes the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose, which is...

 (increase glucose in blood), β cells secrete insulin
Insulin
Insulin is a hormone central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle....

 (decrease glucose in blood), δ cells secrete somatostatin
Somatostatin
Somatostatin is a peptide hormone that regulates the endocrine system and affects neurotransmission and cell proliferation via interaction with G-protein-coupled somatostatin receptors and inhibition of the release of numerous secondary hormones.Somatostatin...

 (regulates/stops α and β cells), and PP cells secrete pancreatic polypeptide
Pancreatic polypeptide
Pancreatic polypeptide is a polypeptide secreted by PP cells in the endocrine pancreas predominantly in the head of the pancreas. It consists of 36 amino acids and has molecular weight about 4200 Da....

.

The islets are a compact collection of endocrine cells arranged in clusters and cords and are crisscrossed by a dense network of capillaries. The capillaries of the islets are lined by layers of endocrine cells in direct contact with vessels, and most endocrine cells are in direct contact with blood vessel
Blood vessel
The blood vessels are the part of the circulatory system that transports blood throughout the body. There are three major types of blood vessels: the arteries, which carry the blood away from the heart; the capillaries, which enable the actual exchange of water and chemicals between the blood and...

s, by either cytoplasm
Cytoplasm
The cytoplasm is a small gel-like substance residing between the cell membrane holding all the cell's internal sub-structures , except for the nucleus. All the contents of the cells of prokaryote organisms are contained within the cytoplasm...

ic processes or by direct apposition. According to the volume The Body, by Alan E. Nourse
Alan E. Nourse
Alan Edward Nourse was an American science fiction author and physician. He wrote both juvenile and adult science fiction, as well as nonfiction works about medicine and science. His SF works generally focused on medicine and/or psionics.-Biography:Alan Nourse was born August 11, 1928 to...

, the islets are "busily manufacturing their hormone and generally disregarding the pancreatic cells all around them, as though they were located in some completely different part of the body." The islet of Langerhans plays an imperative role in glucose metabolism and regulation of blood glucose concentration.

The pancreas as an exocrine gland helps out the digestive system. It secretes pancreatic fluid that contains digestive enzymes that pass to the small intestine. These enzymes help to further break down the carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids (fats) in the chyme.

In humans, the secretory activity of the pancreas is regulated directly via the effect of hormone
Hormone
A hormone is a chemical released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one...

s in the blood on the islets of Langerhans and indirectly through the effect of the autonomic nervous system
Autonomic nervous system
The autonomic nervous system is the part of the peripheral nervous system that acts as a control system functioning largely below the level of consciousness, and controls visceral functions. The ANS affects heart rate, digestion, respiration rate, salivation, perspiration, diameter of the pupils,...

 on the blood flow.

Sympathetic
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

 (adrenergic
Adrenergic
An adrenergic agent is a drug, or other substance, which has effects similar to, or the same as, epinephrine . Thus, it is a kind of sympathomimetic agent...

): α2: decreases secretion from beta cell
Beta cell
Beta cells are a type of cell in the pancreas located in the so-called islets of Langerhans. They make up 65-80% of the cells in the islets.-Function:...

s, increases secretion from alpha cell
Alpha cell
Alpha cells are endocrine cells in the islets of Langerhans of the pancreas. They make up 33-46% of the human islet cells and are responsible for synthesizing and secreting the peptide hormone glucagon, which elevates the glucose levels in the blood....

s, β2: increases secretion from beta cells
Parasympathetic (muscarinic): M3: increases stimulation of alpha cell
Alpha cell
Alpha cells are endocrine cells in the islets of Langerhans of the pancreas. They make up 33-46% of the human islet cells and are responsible for synthesizing and secreting the peptide hormone glucagon, which elevates the glucose levels in the blood....

s and beta cell
Beta cell
Beta cells are a type of cell in the pancreas located in the so-called islets of Langerhans. They make up 65-80% of the cells in the islets.-Function:...

s

Anatomy

The pancreas lies in the epigastrium
Epigastrium
The epigastrium is the upper central region of the abdomen. It is located between the costal margins and the subcostal plane....

 and left hypochondrium
Hypochondrium
The hypochondrium is the upper part of the abdomen dorsal to the lowest ribs of the thorax. The word derives from the Greek term ὑποχονδρος hupochondros, meaning abdomen, or literally under cartilage.The liver is found in the right hypochondrium....

 areas of the abdomen

It is composed of the following parts:
  • The head lies within the concavity of the duodenum
    Duodenum
    The duodenum is the first section of the small intestine in most higher vertebrates, including mammals, reptiles, and birds. In fish, the divisions of the small intestine are not as clear and the terms anterior intestine or proximal intestine may be used instead of duodenum...

    .
  • The uncinate process emerges from the lower part of head, and lies deep to superior mesenteric vessels.
  • The neck is the constricted part between the head and the body.
  • The body lies behind the stomach
    Stomach
    The stomach is a muscular, hollow, dilated part of the alimentary canal which functions as an important organ of the digestive tract in some animals, including vertebrates, echinoderms, insects , and molluscs. It is involved in the second phase of digestion, following mastication .The stomach is...

    .
  • The tail is the left end of the pancreas. It lies in contact with the spleen
    Spleen
    The spleen is an organ found in virtually all vertebrate animals with important roles in regard to red blood cells and the immune system. In humans, it is located in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen. It removes old red blood cells and holds a reserve of blood in case of hemorrhagic shock...

     and runs in the lienorenal ligament.


The superior pancreaticoduodenal artery
Superior pancreaticoduodenal artery
The superior pancreaticoduodenal artery is an artery that supplies blood to the duodenum and pancreas. It is a branch of the gastroduodenal artery, which most commonly arises from the common hepatic artery of the celiac trunk...

 from gastroduodenal artery
Gastroduodenal artery
In anatomy, the gastroduodenal artery is a small blood vessel in the abdomen.It supplies blood directly to the pylorus and proximal part of the duodenum, and indirectly to the pancreatic head .It most commonly arises from the common hepatic artery of the celiac trunk, but there are...

 and the inferior pancreaticoduodenal artery
Inferior pancreaticoduodenal artery
The inferior pancreaticoduodenal artery is a branch of the superior mesenteric artery or from its first intestinal branch, opposite the upper border of the inferior part of the duodenum....

 from superior mesenteric artery
Superior mesenteric artery
In human anatomy, the superior mesenteric artery arises from the anterior surface of the abdominal aorta, just inferior to the origin of the celiac trunk, and supplies the intestine from the lower part of the duodenum through two-thirds of the transverse colon, as well as the pancreas.-Location...

 run in the groove between the pancreas and duodenum and supply the head of pancreas.
The pancreatic branches of splenic artery
Splenic artery
In anatomy, the splenic artery is the blood vessel that supplies oxygenated blood to the spleen. It branches from the celiac artery, and follows a course superior to the pancreas.-Branches:...

 also supply the neck, body and tail of the pancreas. The largest of those branches is called the arteria pancreatica magna
Arteria pancreatica magna
In human anatomy, the arteria pancreatica magna, also great pancreatic artery and greater pancreatic artery, is the largest blood vessel that supplies oxygenated blood to the pancreas and arises from the splenic artery.-Pathology:...

; its occlusion, although rare, is fatal.

The body and neck of the pancreas drain into splenic vein
Splenic vein
In anatomy, the splenic vein is the blood vessel that drains blood from the spleen.It joins with the superior mesenteric vein, to form the hepatic portal vein and follows a course superior to the pancreas, alongside of the similarly named artery, the splenic artery.It collects branches from the...

; the head drains into the superior mesenteric
Superior mesenteric vein
In anatomy, the superior mesenteric vein is a blood vessel that drains blood from the small intestine . At its termination behind the neck of the pancreas, the SMV combines with the splenic vein to form the hepatic portal vein...

 and portal veins.

Lymph
Lymph
Lymph is considered a part of the interstitial fluid, the fluid which lies in the interstices of all body tissues. Interstitial fluid becomes lymph when it enters a lymph capillary...

 is drained via the splenic
Splenic lymph nodes
The splenic lymph nodes accompany the lienal artery, and are situated in relation to the posterior surface and upper border of the pancreas; one or two members of this group are found in the gastrolienal ligament....

, celiac
Celiac lymph nodes
The visceral glands are associated with the branches of the celiac, superior and inferior mesenteric arteries. Those related to the branches of the celiac artery form three sets, gastric, hepatic, and pancreaticolienal.* gastric lymph nodes* hepatic lymph nodes* splenic lymph nodes-External links:*...

 and superior mesenteric lymph nodes
Superior mesenteric lymph nodes
The superior mesenteric lymph nodes may be divided into three principal groups:* mesenteric lymph nodes* ileocolic lymph nodes* mesocolic lymph nodes-Afferents:...

.

Diseases

Because the pancreas is a storage depot for digestive enzymes, injury to the pancreas is potentially very dangerous. A puncture of the pancreas generally requires prompt and experienced medical intervention.

Pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer refers to a malignant neoplasm of the pancreas. The most common type of pancreatic cancer, accounting for 95% of these tumors is adenocarcinoma, which arises within the exocrine component of the pancreas. A minority arises from the islet cells and is classified as a...

s, particularly cancer of the exocrine pancreas, remain one of the most deadly cancers, and the mortality rate is very high.

Diabetes mellitus type 1
Diabetes mellitus type 1
Diabetes mellitus type 1 is a form of diabetes mellitus that results from autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. The subsequent lack of insulin leads to increased blood and urine glucose...

 is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas.

History

The pancreas was first identified for western civilization by Herophilus (335–280 BC), a Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 anatomist and surgeon
Surgery
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

. Only a few hundred years later, Rufus of Ephesus
Rufus of Ephesus
Rufus of Ephesus was an ancient Greek physician and author who wrote treatises on dietetics, pathology, anatomy, and patient care. He was to some extent a follower of Hippocrates, although he at times criticized or departed from that author's teachings...

, another Greek anatomist, gave the pancreas its name. The term "pancreas" is derived from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 πᾶν ("all", "whole"), and κρέας ("flesh") – presumably because of its fleshy consistency.

Embryological development

The pancreas forms from the embryonic foregut
Foregut
The foregut is the anterior part of the alimentary canal, from the mouth to the duodenum at the entrance of the bile duct. At this point it is continuous with the midgut...

 and is therefore of endoderm
Endoderm
Endoderm is one of the three primary germ cell layers in the very early embryo. The other two layers are the ectoderm and mesoderm , with the endoderm as the intermost layer...

al origin. Pancreatic development begins [with] the formation of a ventral and dorsal anlage (or buds). Each structure communicates with the foregut through a duct. The ventral pancreatic bud becomes the head and uncinate process, and comes from the hepatic diverticulum.

Differential rotation and fusion of the ventral and dorsal pancreatic buds results in the formation of the definitive pancreas. As the duodenum rotates to the right, it carries with it the ventral pancreatic bud and common bile duct
Common bile duct
The common bile duct is a tube-like anatomic structure in the human gastrointestinal tract. It is formed by the union of the common hepatic duct and the cystic duct . It is later joined by the pancreatic duct to form the ampulla of Vater...

. Upon reaching its final destination, the ventral pancreatic bud fuses with the much larger dorsal pancreatic bud. At this point of fusion, the main ducts of the ventral and dorsal pancreatic buds fuse, forming the duct of Wirsung, the main pancreatic duct.

Differentiation of cells of the pancreas proceeds through two different pathways, corresponding to the dual endocrine and exocrine functions of the pancreas. In progenitor cells of the exocrine pancreas, important molecules that induce differentiation include follistatin
Follistatin
Follistatin also known as activin-binding protein is a protein that in humans is encoded by the FST gene. Follistatin is an autocrine glycoprotein that is expressed in nearly all tissues of higher animals....

, fibroblast growth factor
Fibroblast growth factor
Fibroblast growth factors, or FGFs, are a family of growth factors involved in angiogenesis, wound healing, and embryonic development. The FGFs are heparin-binding proteins and interactions with cell-surface associated heparan sulfate proteoglycans have been shown to be essential for FGF signal...

s, and activation of the Notch receptor system. Development of the exocrine acini progresses through three successive stages. These include the predifferentiated, protodifferentiated, and differentiated stages, which correspond to undetectable, low, and high levels of digestive enzyme activity, respectively.

Progenitor cells of the endocrine pancreas arise from cells of the protodifferentiated stage of the exocrine pancreas. Under the influence of neurogenin-3 and Isl-1, but in the absence of notch receptor signaling, these cells differentiate to form two lines of committed endocrine precursor cells. The first line, under the direction of Pax-0, forms α- and γ- cells, which produce glucagon
Glucagon
Glucagon, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, raises blood glucose levels. Its effect is opposite that of insulin, which lowers blood glucose levels. The pancreas releases glucagon when blood sugar levels fall too low. Glucagon causes the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose, which is...

 and pancreatic polypeptide
Pancreatic polypeptide
Pancreatic polypeptide is a polypeptide secreted by PP cells in the endocrine pancreas predominantly in the head of the pancreas. It consists of 36 amino acids and has molecular weight about 4200 Da....

s, respectively. The second line, influenced by Pax-6, produces β- and δ-cells, which secrete insulin
Insulin
Insulin is a hormone central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle....

 and somatostatin
Somatostatin
Somatostatin is a peptide hormone that regulates the endocrine system and affects neurotransmission and cell proliferation via interaction with G-protein-coupled somatostatin receptors and inhibition of the release of numerous secondary hormones.Somatostatin...

, respectively.

Insulin and glucagon can be detected in the human fetal circulation by the fourth or fifth month of fetal development
Fetal development
Prenatal or antenatal development is the process in which a human embryo or fetus gestates during pregnancy, from fertilization until birth. Often, the terms fetal development, foetal development, or embryology are used in a similar sense.After fertilization the embryogenesis starts...

.

In animals

Pancreatic tissue is present in all vertebrate species, but its precise form and arrangement vary widely. There may be up to three separate pancreases, two of which arise from ventral buds, and the other dorsally. In most species (including humans), these fuse in the adult, but there are several exceptions. Even when a single pancreas is present, two or three pancreatic ducts may persist, each draining separately into the duodenum (or equivalent part of the foregut). Bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s, for example, typically have three such ducts.

In teleosts, and a few other species (such as rabbit
Rabbit
Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world...

s), there is no discrete pancreas at all, with pancreatic tissue being distributed diffusely across the mesentery
Mesentery
In anatomy, the mesentery is the double layer of peritoneum that suspends the jejunum and ileum from the posterior wall of the abdomen. Its meaning, however, is frequently extended to include double layers of peritoneum connecting various components of the abdominal cavity.-Mesentery :The...

 and even within other nearby organs, such as the liver
Liver
The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. It has a wide range of functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion...

 or spleen
Spleen
The spleen is an organ found in virtually all vertebrate animals with important roles in regard to red blood cells and the immune system. In humans, it is located in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen. It removes old red blood cells and holds a reserve of blood in case of hemorrhagic shock...

. In a few teleost species, the endocrine tissue has fused to form a distinct gland within the abdominal cavity, but otherwise it is distributed amongst the exocrine components. The most primitive arrangement, however, appears to be that of lamprey
Lamprey
Lampreys are a family of jawless fish, whose adults are characterized by a toothed, funnel-like sucking mouth. Translated from an admixture of Latin and Greek, lamprey means stone lickers...

s and lungfish
Lungfish
Lungfish are freshwater fish belonging to the Subclass Dipnoi. Lungfish are best known for retaining characteristics primitive within the Osteichthyes, including the ability to breathe air, and structures primitive within Sarcopterygii, including the presence of lobed fins with a well-developed...

, in which pancreatic tissue is found as a number of discrete nodules within the wall of the gut itself, with the exocrine portions being little different from other glandular structures of the intestine.

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