Merck Manual

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The Exocrine Pancreas in Dogs and Cats

By

Jörg M. Steiner

, DMV, PhD, DACVIM, DECVIM-CA, AGAF, Texas A & M University

Last full review/revision Oct 2020 | Content last modified Oct 2020

The pancreas has both endocrine and exocrine functions. The exocrine pancreas is made up of pancreatic acinar cells and a duct system that opens into the proximal duodenum. Pancreatic acinar cells synthesize and secrete digestive enzymes (eg, amylase, lipase, and others) and inactive proenzymes of digestive enzymes (ie, zymogens; eg, trypsinogen, chymotrypsinogen, proelastase, prophospholipase, and others), which are essential for the digestion of dietary components such as proteins, triglycerides, and complex carbohydrates. The exocrine pancreas also secretes other essential substances, such as large amounts of bicarbonate, which buffers gastric acid, intrinsic factor, which is needed for cobalamin absorption, and colipase, which is an essential cofactor for pancreatic lipase.

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