Centroacinar cells

From WikiMD's Wellness Encyclopedia

Centroacinar cells

Centroacinar cells are specialized cells in the pancreas that play a crucial role in the production and transport of pancreatic juice, which is essential for the digestion of food. These cells are part of the exocrine pancreas, which helps in the digestion process by secreting digestive enzymes and bicarbonate into the duodenum, the first segment of the small intestine.

Structure[edit | edit source]

Centroacinar cells are located in the acinus of the pancreas, which is the basic structural unit of the exocrine pancreas. An acinus is a cluster of pancreatic acinar cells that produce digestive enzymes. The centroacinar cells are situated at the center of the acinus and extend into the initial part of the pancreatic ducts. They are distinguished from the acinar cells by their lighter staining and smaller size. These cells are connected to the acinar cells and are considered a part of the ductal system.

Function[edit | edit source]

The primary function of centroacinar cells is to contribute to the secretion of bicarbonate-rich fluid. This bicarbonate is crucial for neutralizing the acidic chyme that enters the duodenum from the stomach, creating an alkaline environment that is necessary for the optimal activity of pancreatic enzymes. The secretion of bicarbonate by centroacinar cells is stimulated by the hormone secretin, which is released by the duodenum in response to the presence of acidic chyme.

In addition to their role in bicarbonate secretion, centroacinar cells also play a part in the regulation of fluid and electrolyte balance in the pancreatic juice. They adjust the composition of the pancreatic juice, making it more conducive for the enzymes to act on the ingested food.

Clinical Significance[edit | edit source]

Alterations in the function or pathology of centroacinar cells can lead to pancreatic disorders. For example, in chronic pancreatitis, a long-standing inflammation of the pancreas, the structure and function of centroacinar cells can be disrupted, affecting the secretion of pancreatic juice and leading to digestive problems. Furthermore, centroacinar cells have been studied in the context of pancreatic cancer, as changes in these cells may contribute to the development of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, the most common type of pancreatic cancer.

Research[edit | edit source]

Research on centroacinar cells is ongoing, with studies focusing on understanding their precise role in pancreatic physiology and pathology. Insights into the molecular mechanisms governing the function of these cells could lead to new therapeutic targets for pancreatic diseases.

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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD