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Pancreas: A nodular organ in the Abdomen that contains a mixture of Endocrine glands and Exocrine glands. The small endocrine portion consists of the Islets of langerhans secreting a number of hormones into the blood stream. The large exocrine portion (Exocrine pancreas) is a compound acinar gland that secretes several digestive enzymes into the pancreatic ductal system that empties into the Duodenum.

In Vitro Colony Assays for Characterizing Tri-potent Progenitor Cells Isolated from the Adult Murine Pancreas

1Diabetes and Metabolism Research Institute, Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, 2Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences, Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, 3Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology

JoVE 54016

 Developmental Biology

Accessory Organs

JoVE 10831

Accessory organs are those that participate in the digestion of food but do not come into direct contact with it like the mouth, stomach, or intestine do. Accessory organs secrete enzymes into the digestive tract to facilitate the breakdown of food.

Salivary glands secrete saliva—a complex liquid containing in part water, mucus, and amylase. Amylase is a digestive enzyme that begins breaking down starches and other carbohydrates even before they reach the stomach. The liver, gallbladder, and pancreas are the other accessory organs involved in digestion. All three secrete enzymes into the duodenum of the small intestine via a series of channels called the biliary tree. The liver and gallbladder work together to release bile into the duodenum. The liver produces bile, but it is stored in the gallbladder for secretion when needed. Bile is a mixture of water, bile salts, cholesterol, and bilirubin. Bile salts contain hydrophobic areas and hydrophilic areas which allows it to engage with both fats and water. Thus it breaks down large fat globules into smaller ones—a process called emulsification. Bilirubin is a waste product that accumulates when the liver breaks hemoglobin from red blood cells. The globin is recycled and the heme, which contains iron, is excreted in the bile. The presence of bilirubin is what gives feces its brown color

 Core: Nutrition and Digestion

Feedback Loops

JoVE 10878

In most cases, excessive hormone production is prevented by negative feedback—a loop that starts with a stimulus inducing the release of a particular substance, like a hormone, to maintain a certain level before triggering a signal that results in a decrease in further release of the hormone.

For example, an increase in blood glucose levels releases the hormone insulin from beta cells of the pancreas into the bloodstream, delivering insulin to cells throughout the body. Insulin stimulates cells to take up glucose and use it for energy production. Insulin also converts and stores excess glucose as glycogen in the liver. Collectively, these actions lower blood glucose levels, and in turn, signals the pancreas to stop producing insulin. When blood glucose levels fall below normal, for example during exercise, alpha cells of the pancreas release the hormone glucagon. Glucagon converts glycogen stored in the liver to glucose, which can then be used by other cells in the body for energy production. Glucagon also stimulates the liver to absorb amino acids from blood and convert them to glucose. An increase in blood glucose levels then signals the pancreas to stop releasing glucagon via negative feedback regulation.

 Core: Endocrine System

Hormonal Regulation

JoVE 10836

Hormones regulate a significant portion of digestion through activation of the neuroendocrine system. The neuroendocrine system of digestion contains many different hormones all with multiple functions that are both, directly and indirectly, involved in digestion.

Starting in the stomach, when proteins are detected by sensory neurons of the enteric nervous system, the pyloric gland is stimulated to release gastrin. In turn, this hormone induces the release of histamine. Combined, they initiate the production of hydrochloric acid which facilitates digestion—turning food into chyme. When the pH of the stomach becomes more acidic, a negative feedback loop halts the production of both hormones. The chyme then moves to the duodenum, where several hormones are released—each with multiple functions. Some inhibit digestion in the stomach. Gastric inhibitory peptide (GIP) slows stomach churning. Secretin inhibits gastric juice production and, along with cholecystokinin (CCK), induces the pyloric sphincter between the stomach and duodenum to close. This limits the volume of chyme in the duodenum, pacing the rate of digestion. Once the chyme is in the duodenum, secretin prompts the release of bicarbonate from the pancreas. This reduces the acidity of the chyme, protecting the sensitive lining of the duodenum and setting up an optimal environment

 Core: Nutrition and Digestion

Embryonic Stem Cells

JoVE 10811

Embryonic stem (ES) cells are undifferentiated pluripotent cells, meaning they can produce any cell type in the body. This gives them tremendous potential in science and medicine since they can generate specific cell types for use in research or to replace body cells lost due to damage or disease.

ES cells are present in the inner cell mass of an embryo at the blastocyst stage, which occurs at about 3–5 days after fertilization in humans before the embryo is implanted in the uterus. Human ES cells are usually derived from donated embryos left over from the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process. The cells are collected and grown in culture, where they can divide indefinitely—creating ES cell lines. Under certain conditions, ES cells can differentiate—either spontaneously into a variety of cell types, or in a directed fashion to produce desired cell types. Scientists can control which cell types are generated by manipulating the culture conditions—such as changing the surface of the culture dish or adding specific growth factors to the culture medium—as well as by genetically modifying the cells. Through these methods, researchers have been able to generate many specific cell types from ES cells, including blood, nerve, heart, bone, liver, and pancreas cells. Regenerative medicine concerns the creation of living, functio

 Core: Biotechnology

What is the Immune System?

JoVE 10895

The immune system comprises diverse biological structures and processes that protect the body from disease. These processes can be classified into innate and adaptive immunity. To work effectively, the immune system needs to detect pathogens by distinguishing the body’s own structures from foreign elements. If this determination fails, autoimmune diseases occur in which the immune system reacts against the body’s own tissue. The innate immune system is the first line of defense against infection. It comprises physical barriers and a variety of cells that act quickly and non-specifically against elements that are foreign to the host (i.e., non-self). Examples of physical barriers in mammals are skin, the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, and secretions, such as mucus or saliva. Once an invader overcomes physical barriers, cells of the inflammatory response are recruited to the entry site: mast cells release a plethora of chemicals that attract other cells of the innate immune system and activates the adaptive immune system. Phagocytic cells, such as neutrophils and macrophages, ingest and destroy pathogens. Natural killer cells, a special type of white blood cell, destroy virus-infected cells. Together, cells of the innate immune system eradicate the invader or hinder its spread, and activate the adaptive immune system. How can an organism

 Core: Immune System

The Sympathetic Nervous System

JoVE 10840

The sympathetic nervous system—one of the two major divisions of the autonomic nervous system—is activated in times of stress. It prepares the body to meet the challenges of a demanding circumstance while inhibiting essential body functions—such as digestion—that are a lower priority at the moment.

As a student, you may have had the experience of walking into class and finding a surprise exam that you were not expecting. In the moment of realization, you may sense your gut tighten, your mouth goes dry, and your heart starts to race all of a sudden. These are signs of the sympathetic system taking over in preparation to react. While you may not be in immediate danger, the system has evolved to facilitate immediate reaction to stress or threats: blood is directed away from the digestive system and skin to increase energy supplies to muscles. Furthermore, the heart rate, and blood flow increase, and pupils dilate to maximize visual perception. At the same time, the adrenal gland releases epinephrine into the circulatory system. Your body is now primed to take action, whether that means to swiftly flee from danger or fight whatever threat may be at hand. The sympathetic nervous system can be activated by various parts of the brain, with the hypothalamus playing a particularly important role. Sympathetic instructions from the central

 Core: Nervous System

The Parasympathetic Nervous System

JoVE 10839

The parasympathetic nervous system is one of the two major divisions of the autonomic nervous system. This parasympathetic system is responsible for regulating many unconscious functions, such as heart rate and digestion. It is composed of neurons located in both the brain and the peripheral nervous system that send their axons to target muscles, organs, and glands.

Activation of the parasympathetic system tends to have a relaxing effect on the body, promoting functions that replenish resources and restore homeostasis. It is therefore sometimes referred to as the “rest and digest” system. The parasympathetic system predominates during calm times when it is safe to devote resources to basic “housekeeping” functions without a threat of attack or harm. The parasympathetic nervous system can be activated by various parts of the brain, including the hypothalamus. Preganglionic neurons in the brainstem and sacral part of the spinal cord first send their axons out to ganglia—clusters of neuronal cell bodies—in the peripheral nervous system. These ganglia contain the connections between pre- and postganglionic neurons and are located near the organs or glands that they control. From here, postganglionic neurons send their axons onto target tissues—generally smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, or glands. Typic

 Core: Nervous System

Ribosomes

JoVE 10692

Ribosomes translate genetic information encoded by messenger RNA (mRNA) into proteins. Both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells have ribosomes. Cells that synthesize large quantities of protein—such as secretory cells in the human pancreas—can contain millions of ribosomes.

Ribosomes are composed of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and proteins. Ribosomes are not surrounded by a membrane (i.e., despite their specific cell function, they are not an organelle). In eukaryotes, rRNA is transcribed from genes in the nucleolus—a part of the nucleus that specializes in ribosome production. Within the nucleolus, rRNA is combined with proteins that are imported from the cytoplasm. The assembly produces two subunits of a ribosome—the large and small subunits. These subunits then leave the nucleus through pores in the nuclear envelope. Each one large and small subunit bind to each other once mRNA binds to a site on the small subunit at the start of the translation process. This step forms a functional ribosome. Ribosomes may assemble in the cytosol—called free ribosomes—or while attached to the outside of the nuclear envelope or endoplasmic reticulum—called bound ribosomes. Generally, free ribosomes synthesize proteins used in the cytoplasm, while bound ribosomes synthesize proteins that are inserted into membranes, packaged into org

 Core: Cell Structure and Function
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