Pancreatic juice is composed of several enzymes including trypsinogen, chymotrypsinogen, elastase, carboxypeptidase, pancreatic lipase, nucleases and amylase. These are released into the small intestine where they help break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates for absorption into the bloodstream. Pancreatic juice also contains a high level of bicarbonate to neutralize stomach acid.
Pancreatic juice is produced by the pancreas, a digestive organ and hormone-producing gland found in vertebrate animals. In its role as a gland, it is an origin of important hormones, such as insulin and glucagon. The pancreas is also controlled by hormones, specifically secretin and cholecystokinin. These are released when acidic food matter passes into the duodenum, the top part of the small intestines directly below the stomach. Duct cells release the bicarbonate portion of the juice, and acinar cells release the enzyme portion.
The pancreas itself is not immune to the enzymes it produces outside of the structures specifically designed to carry them. The pancreas itself can be digested if there is a rupture in the ducts that carry the enzymes. Injuries to the pancreas are very dangerous and require skilled medical attention. There are several conditions that can cause the pressure inside the ducts to increase and increase the risk of rupture.