Digestion Index Glossary

The Pancreas: Introduction and Index


As chyme floods into the small intestine from the stomach, two things must happen:

  • acid must be quickly and efficiently neutralized to prevent damage to the duodenal mucosa
  • macromolecular nutrients - proteins, fats and starch - must be broken down much further before their constitutents can be absorbed through the mucosa into blood

The pancreas plays a vital role in accomplishing both of these objectives, so vital in fact that insufficient exocrine secretion by the pancreas leads to starvation, even if the animal is consuming adequate quantities of high quality food.

In addition to its role as an exocrine organ, the pancreas is also an endocrine organ and the major hormones it secretes - insulin and glucagon - play a vital role in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. They are, for example, absolutely necessary for maintaining normal blood concentrations of glucose.

Core concepts in physiology of the exocrine pancreas are presented as the following topics:

Advanced and supplemental topics related to physiology of the pancreas:


Last updated on October 22, 1995
Author: R. Bowen
Send comments via form or email to rbowen@colostate.edu