In the exocrine pancreas, the relationship between structure and function, as well as between normal and pathological functioning, can be easily understood if presented in a systematic and logical manner. In this chapter, we explain pancreas physiology. We start by explaining the embryological and ontogenetic development of the pancreas and describe the basic anatomical characteristics of the mature gland, i.e. the macro- and microscopic structure, its vascular supply and innervation. These form the foundation necessary to understand the mechanisms of acinar and ductal cell secretion and their regulation, which are covered in the middle part, with an emphasis on the ionic part of the pancreatic juice. In the last part, we focus on the enzymatic part of the pancreatic juice and its role in digestion of all main groups of energy-rich nutrients, i.e. carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. Two main sources of additional information will help the reader grasp the main concepts in pancreas physiology: figures summarize and combine various concepts encountered in the main text, and clinical boxes contain examples of how a given piece of knowledge can be relevant to understand some diseases.
Part of the book: Challenges in Pancreatic Pathology