The pancreas provides two main functions which are physiologically dissimilar as follows

Exocrine part of the pancreas is the largest and it helps in digestion of substances in the gut which has been massaged into chyme by the stomach. It digests carbohydrate, protein and fat.

Enymes for digestion


  • Trypsin with a precursor compound trypsinogen
  • Chymotrypsin with a precursor compound chymotrypsinogen
  • Carboxypolypeptidase with a precursor compound carboprocarboxypolypeptidase


  • Pancreatic amylase


  • Pancreatic lipase breaks neutral fat to fatty acids and monoglycerides
  • Cholesterol esterase which hydrolyses cholesterol esters
  • Phospholipase- splits fatty aids from phospholipids

The endocrine function of the pancreas include the production of hormones such as insulin. Special cells aggregate together in islands to form what are called islets of Langerhans. These islets are ductless but are also highly vascularized. Their secretions are discharged directly into the blood stream. The cells which are endocrine cells are of four major groups.

1.                  A cells which produce glucagon.

2.                  B cells which produce insulin

3.                  PP cells which produce pancreatic polypeptide

4.                  B cells which produce somatostatin

These are all APUD cells and they also belong to the gastroenteropancreatic endocrine (GEP) system.





















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Pancreatic fluid secretions through main pancreatic duct and discharges across the ampulla of Vater. Click to label; reclick to restart 

Endocrine secretion in the pancreas


Cross section through pancreas; low power


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