The islet-acinar axis of the pancreas: more than just insulin

Savio Barreto, Colin Carati, James Toouli, Gino Saccone

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    90 Citations (Scopus)


    Although the role of the islets in the regulation of acinar cell function seemed a mystery to investigators who observed their dispersion among pancreatic acini, over time an appreciation for this intricate and unique structural arrangement has developed. The last three decades have witnessed a steadily growing understanding of the interrelationship of the endocrine and the exocrine pancreas. The islet innervation and vascular anatomy have been more fully characterized and provide an appropriate background for our current understanding. The interrelationship between the endocrine and exocrine pancreas is mediated by islet-derived hormones such as insulin and somatostatin, other humoral factors including pancreastatin and ghrelin, and also neurotransmitters (nitric oxide, peptide YY, substance P, and galanin) released by the nerves innervating the pancreas. Although considerable progress has been achieved, further work is required to fully delineate the complex interplay of the numerous mechanisms involved. This review aims to provide a comprehensive update of the current literature available, bringing together data gleaned from studies addressing the actions of individual hormones, humoral factors, and neurotransmitters on the regulation of amylase secretion from the acinar cell. This comprehensive view of the islet-acinar axis of the pancreas while acknowledging the dominant role played by insulin and somatostatin on exocrine secretion sheds light on the influence of the various neuropeptides on amylase secretion.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)G10-G22
    Number of pages13
    JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


    • Amylase
    • Galanin
    • Neuropeptides
    • Somatostatin


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