Pancreas is a gland that functions for both the digestive system and the endocrine system. Thus, it can be called as a dual-purpose gland. The bulk of this gland consists of acinar cells. These cells produce enzymes that help in digestion. Among these cells you may find a million pancreatic islets, or islets of Langerhans, cell clusters that produce pancreatic hormones.
Types of hormone-producing cells
There are four different types of hormone-producing cells. Beta cells make insulin, which enhances transport of glucose into cells, where it is used for energy or converted into glycogen for storage. In this way, beta cells lower blood glucose levels. Alpha cells secrete glucagon, which has the opposite effect to insulin, stimulating release of glucose from the liver and raising blood glucose levels. Somatostatin, secreted by delta cells, regulates alpha and beta cells. There are only a few F cells that secrete pancreatic peptide, which inhibits secretion of bile and pancreatic digestive enzymes.
Blood sugar regulation
To meet the needs and requirements of the cells and to provide them with energy, the body needs to regulate blood glucose levels. Here, glucose acts as the main source of energy which is carried in the blood stream. In case of excess glucose, it is stored in liver, muscle and fat cells. The pancreatic hormones insulin and glucagon prompt storage or release of glucose from cells, and keep the blood levels stable.