Pancreatic Acinar Cell: Its Role in Acute Pancreatitis

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2006;38(7):1024-30. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2005.12.001. Epub 2005 Dec 28.


The pancreatic acinar cell is the functional unit of the exocrine pancreas. It synthesizes, stores, and secretes digestive enzymes. Under normal physiological conditions, digestive enzymes are activated only once they have reached the duodenum. Premature activation of these enzymes within pancreatic acinar cells leads to the onset of acute pancreatitis; it is the major clinical disorder associated with pancreatic acinar cells. Although there have been major advances in our understanding of the pathogenesis of this disease in recent years, available treatment options are still limited to traditional nonspecific and palliative interventions. Novel therapeutic strategies have been suggested based on ongoing research in the physiology and pathophysiology of the disease; these include the administration of systemic antibiotics, antioxidants, cytokine antagonists, and more recently, inhibition of the renin-angiotensin system. Notwithstanding this promising development, most of these potential therapies are still in an experimental stage or clinical trial. Further investigation is needed to prove the efficacy of these novel treatment modalities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Disease
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Enzyme Precursors / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism*
  • Pancreas / pathology*
  • Pancreas / physiopathology*
  • Pancreas, Exocrine / cytology
  • Pancreas, Exocrine / enzymology
  • Pancreas, Exocrine / physiopathology
  • Pancreatitis / pathology*
  • Pancreatitis / physiopathology*
  • Pancreatitis / therapy
  • Renin-Angiotensin System


  • Antioxidants
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Enzyme Precursors
  • Inflammation Mediators