The pancreas is an abdominal organ with both endocrine and exocrine functions. It is about 15 cm long in the adult and consists of a head, body and tail. It drains to the ampulla of Vater of the duodenum.
It secretes 1.5 to 3 litres per day of alkaline fluid containing enzymes into the duodenum. The rate of secretion is adjusted to the demand and nature of the stomach contents by a complex series of neural and humoral mediators. For example, secretin from the duodenum stimulates water and bicarbonate secretion by duct cells. Cholecystokinin, another hormone produced by the duodenum, stimulates the secretion of enzymes by the acinar cells of the pancreas.
The enzymes released by the pancreas include trypsin, chymotrypsin, aminopeptidases, elastases, amylases, lipases and phospholipases.
Last reviewed 01/2018