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12.04 Pancreas

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  1. Pancreas
    1. Endocrine AND Exocrine functions
  2. Location
    1. Retroperitoneal
    2. Inferior and posterior to stomach

Nursing Points


  1. Exocrine function
    1. Secretes digestive enzymes into duodenum
  2. Endocrine function
    1. Islets of langerhans – small endocrine cell clusters
      1. Secretions
        1. Insulin (beta cells)
          1. Eat → increased glucose, increased amino acids
          2. Stimulates
            1. Uptake of glucose and amino acids into cells
            2. Storage of glycogen and fat
          3. Promotes cell growth and differentiation
          4. Antagonizes glucagon
          5. Kidneys, brain, liver, RBC’s do NOT depend on insulin for cellular function/metabolism
        2. Glucagon (alpha cells)
          1. Between meals, glucose decreases
          2. Stimulates
            1. In liver
              1. Gluconeogenesis
              2. Glycogenolysis
              3. Release of glucose into circulation
            2. In adipose tissue
              1. Fat breakdown
              2. Release of fatty acids
          3. Responds to an increase in amino acids after a high protein meal
            1. Provides raw materials for gluconeogenesis
        3. Somatostatin (delta cells)
          1. Eat → increased glucose, increased amino acids
          2. Inhibits secretion of insulin and glucagon from alpha and beta cells
          3. Helps provide balance
    2. Hyperglycemic hormones – raise glucose levels
      1. Glucagon, growth hormone, epinephrine, Norepinephrine, cortisol, glucocorticoids
    3. Hypoglycemic hormone – lower glucose levels
      1. Insulin
Study Tools

Video Transcript

In this lesson we’re going to take a look at the pancreas as it relates to the endocrine system.
In the pancreas, it’s a really important organ because it does both endocrine functions and exocrine functions. But that means is that it contributes to the endocrine system, but it also has exocrine capabilities of secreting digestive enzymes to help break down food. These are going to be like ASAP ambulance. I encourage you to check out the digestive lessons for more information. But in this lesson we’re going to focus on the endocrine functions of the pancreas.

The pancreas is located in the retroperitoneal portion so that means it’s in part of the abdomen but it sits just below and in front of the stomach. So now let’s take a look at what the pancreas actually does.

The pancreas has different types of cells and it’s really important to both the endocrine system and the digestive system. In the pancreas there is these things called pancreatic acini which are responsible for the exocrine portion of the pancreas. The cells that secrete amylase and lipase. But the cells that we’re concerned with right now are the pancreatic islets. They’re also known as the islets of langerhans.

The islets have multiple cells, but we’re going to focus on are the alpha, beta, and felt the cells. First up is the beta cells in the reason is because it secretes insulin which is the most well-known factor of the pancreas. When we eat, we ingest carbohydrates and proteins. These carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and proteins are broken down into amino acids. So when we eat the insulin is secreted and it helps to drive those glucose in those amino acids into the cells. Anything that’s left over is converted to storage byways of glycogen and fat. These glucose cells help to promote cell growth. The other thing about insulin that is that it antagonizes glucagon, meaning it turns it off and it doesn’t work. So glucagon will not work in the presence of insulin. There are some organs in our body that do not rely on insulin for cellular metabolism. And this is the kidneys, brain, liver, and the red blood cells.

In the islets of langerhans, there is a hormone called glucagon. And glucagon does with the opposite of insulin does. So after we eat, there’s a time when we’re not ingesting food, which means that our blood sugar might drop. And what happens is glucagon is stimulated from several different processes. By doing this it increases our blood sugar to keep us running.

In the liver glucose is released by the process of gluconeogenesis, which is the conversion of glucose from fats and proteins, and then glycogenolysis, which is the conversion of glycogen which is stored in the liver, to glucose. Once this is done it releases the glucose into the bloodstream raising the blood sugar. The other thing that happens for the glucagon is that fat breaks down into fatty acids in adipose tissue. This allows these fatty acids to be utilized for energy. After high protein meals, there’s not a lot of carbs for the body to convert into glucose, so glucagon provides these raw materials for gluconeogenesis or that formation of those glucose from the fence or proteins.

Now they’re going to probably seem like the struggle between insulin and glucagon. That’s where somatostatin comes in, which are the Delta cells. These are also produced in the islet cells. During food intake, there’s going to be that increasing glucose from the carbs and the increase in amino acids for the proteins, and what happens is somatostatin comes in to help regulate and provide balance. It’s going to help to inhibit secretion of insulin or glucagon depending on what the body’s particular needs are at that point.
Hormones are really important and glucose control. Our bodies have to respond in a particular way as a response to these levels of glucose. So when somebody has low glucose, the body responds by releasing hormones are going to raise the glucose or at least dangerous levels of Lucas. Are hormones like glucagon, growth hormone, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and glucocorticoids.

In direct opposition to there’s a response from the body to high level of blood glucose. The aim here is to lower those glucose levels in this is done with insulin. However not everybody has the capability especially with patients with diabetes both type 1 and type 2. I encourage you to check up a lesson on that to better understand. But just understand that the body releases hormones as a response to those levels of glucose period.
Okay so let’s recap.

The pancreas has two different functions both endocrine and exocrine.

In the pancreas there are areas of concentrated cells called the islets of langerhans. This is where the alpha, beta, and Delta cells are.

Insulin and glucose into cells and it helps to regulate high levels of blood glucose. These originate from the beta cells.

Glucagon on the other hand helps to generate glucose availability with help from the liver and glucagon originates from the alpha cells.

Somatostatin on the other hand is going to keep that balance between glucagon and insulin and those are found in the Delta cells.

And that’s all I said on the pancreas. Make sure you check out all the resources attached to this lesson. Now, go out and be your best self today, and as always happy nursing!