Digestion Index Glossary

Histology of the Pancreas


The structure of the pancreas is dominated by the fact that it is a dual function organ with both exocrine and endocrine cell types. The vast bulk of the pancreas is composed of exocrine tissue, and secretions from those cells flow into a series ducts for ultimate delivery into the duodenum. Scattered within the exocrine tissue are clumps of cells that secrete hormones into blood.

Prior to embarking on the lessons below, it would be best to review the core section Gross and Microscopic Anatomy of the Pancreas. The lessons below may be disappointing if your browser is not Java-enabled.

Summary of Lesson Link
The pancreas is divided into lobules by connective tissue septae. Lobules are composed largely of grape-like clusters of exocrine cells called acini, which secrete digestive enzymes. Exocrine secretions from acini flow successively through intercalated ducts, intralobular ducts, interlobular ducts and finally into the duodenum through the main pancreatic duct.
Embedded within the pancreatic exocrine tissue are Islets of Langerhans, the endocrine component of the pancreas. Islets contain several cell types and are richly vascularized.

The Pancreas: Introduction and Index

Last updated on July 20, 1998
Author: R. Bowen
Send comments via form or email to rbowen@colostate.edu