Pancreatic juice is stimulated to flow in response to increases in the blood concentrations of two gastrointestinal hormones, secretin and cholecystokinin. Both hormones are liberated from the duodenal mucosa in response to different components of the luminal environment. Secretin is secreted in response to acid and stimulates the pancreatic acini to secrete NaHCO3 so that the acid contents emerging through the pylorus are neutralized.
Cholecystokinin (CCK) secretion is prompted by the presence of both lipid and protein in the duodenal lumen, and the effect of CCK on pancreatic acini is to promote the secretion of enzymes. All three types of pancreatic enzymes are stored in zymogen granules within the acinar cells and released into the ducts on stimulation. As the final components of the meal leave the stomach, acid and nutrient levels fall in the lumen and pancreatic secretion ceases.
Parasympathetic nerve stimulation is also recognized to produce a small stimulation of pancreatic juice flow probably as part of the cephalic and gastric phases, preparing the duodenal environment for a meal.
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