Pancreatic islet cells

What are pancreatic islets?

Pancreatic islets, also called islets of Langerhans, are tiny clusters of cells scattered throughout the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ about the size of a hand located behind the lower part of the stomach.

Pancreatic islets contain several types of cells, including beta cells, that produce the hormone insulin. The pancreas also makes enzymes that help the body digest and use food.

When the level of blood glucose, also called blood sugar, rises after a meal, the pancreas responds by releasing insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin helps cells throughout the body absorb glucose from the bloodstream and use it for energy.

Source: NIDDK (NIH)1

Anatomical Information about Pancreatic islet cells

The pancreatic hormones are normally produced by small clusters of specialized cells called pancreatic islets. Some of the major hormones produced by the pancreatic islets are

  • insulin-lowers blood glucose, also called blood sugar
  • glucagon-raises blood glucose
  • somatostatin-inhibits secretion of certain other hormones
  • vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP)-causes intestinal cells to secrete water into the intestine
  • gastrin-causes the stomach to produce acid for digestion

Source: NIDDK (NIH)2

Anatomy Articles

Read about these related anatomy topics:

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  1. Source: NIDDK (NIH): health-information/ diabetes/ overview/ insulin-medicines-treatments/ pancreatic-islet-transplantation
  2. Source: NIDDK (NIH): health-information/ endocrine-diseases/ multiple-endocrine-neoplasia-type-1

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