The pancreas is a gland organ in the digestive and endocrine system of humans and animals.  It is both an endocrine gland producing several important hormones, including insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin, and somatostatin, and a digestive organ, secreting pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes that assist the absorption of nutrients and the digestion in the small intestine. These enzymes help to further break down the carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids in the chyme.

Pacreatic issues in cystic fibrosis:  The thick mucus seen in the lungs has a counterpart in thickened secretions from the pancreas, an organ responsible for providing digestive juices that help break down food. These secretions block the exocrine movement of the digestive enzymes into the duodenum and result in irreversible damage to the pancreas, often with painful inflammation (pancreatitis).The pancreatic ducts are totally plugged in more advanced cases, usually seen in older children or adolescents. This causes atrophy of the exocrine glands and progressive fibrosis.

The lack of digestive enzymes leads to difficulty absorbing nutrients with their subsequent excretion in the feces, a disorder known as malabsorption. Malabsorption leads to malnutrition and poor growth and development because of calorie loss. Resultant hypoproteinemia may be severe enough to cause generalized edema.  Individuals with CF also have difficulties absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.


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