What is a Pancreas?
The pancreas is a long, soft organ that lies transversely along the posterior abdominal wall, posterior to the stomach, and extends from the region of the duodenum to the spleen. This gland has two major tissue types:
1.an exocrine portion (acini) that secretes digestive enzymes that are carried through a duct to the duodenum
2.an endocrine portion (islets of Langerhans) which consists of the pancreatic islets that secrete glucagon and insulin
Endocrine tissue contains alpha, beta, and delta cells. Alpha cells in the pancreatic islets secrete the hormone glucagon in response to a low concentration of glucose in the blood. Beta cells secrete the hormone insulin in response to a high concentration of glucose in the blood. Delta cells secrete the hormone somatostatin, which inhibits insulin and glucagon secretion.
How Does the Pancreas Relate to Diabetes?
Simply put, diabetes is the result of a deficiency of insulin, which is produced in the endocrine tissue of the pancreas. In people with type 1, the body's immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells. For some reason, antibodies in people with type 1 don't recognize beta cells. They see beta cells as foreign objects and destroy them. As a result, the pancreas produces little to no insulin. The reason behind this autoimmune attack is not known. Type 1 requires the use of insulin therapy to make up for the lack of insulin produced by the pancreas.
Traditional treatment of diabetes includes the regulated use of insulin and/or oral medications, in addition to proper diet and exercise. There are also procedures that can potentially treat diabetes, such as pancreas transplantation and pancreatic islet cell transplantation. An artificial pancreas is also in development, butt is not yet available as a treatment option.
Reviewed by Jason C. Baker, M.D. 04/11.
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I just came back from D-Blog Week. Had a great time. Weather was amazing. Discovered lots of new D-bloggers. When we last left our hero, he was celebrating a fantastic day at the Camden Aquarium. I love, love, loved the luxury of glancing at Dexcom throughout the day as we made our way through the shark tunnel, into the hippopotamus exhibit and when touching squishy sea creatures that looked like a human heart. Blood...