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Picture of Pancreas

Illustration of pancreas

The pancreas is a gland that lies across the back side of the abdomen. It serves both exocrine and endocrine functions. Exocrine glandular tissues in the pancreas produce pancreatic enzymes that are dumped into the small intestine via the pancreatic duct. The enzymes are necessary to digest food. Endocrine function of the pancreas involves the formation of insulin, a hormone that promotes entry of glucose from the blood into the cells for use, lowering blood glucose levels. Beta cells in the so-called islets of Langerhans (clusters of specialized cells) secrete insulin. The islets also contain alpha cells, which secrete glucagon, a hormone that increases blood sugar by promoting the conversion of glycogen to glucose in the liver.

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Text Reference: "The Exocrine Pancreas: Introduction and Index." Colorado State University.