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Chapter 14.

The Endocrine System
The endocrine system consists of specialized glands located in the different parts of the body.
These glands secrete chemical substances called hormones, which transfer information from one set of
cells to another. The endocrine system glands have no ducts connecting to their organs or tissues, hence
the endocrine system is often called the ductless glands, and so they liberate hormones directly into the
bloodstream. The endocrine system also relies on the circulatory system to deliver hormones to the
target tissues.
In general, this system is
concerned principally with the
control of the different metabolic
functions of the body such as the
rates of chemical reactions in the cell
and the transport of substances
through cell membranes or other
aspects of cellular metabolism like
growth and secretion.
Glands of the Endocrine System:
Hypothalamus. This gland is
connected to the pituitary gland by
way of the infundibular (funnel
shape) stalk, and it secretes several
factors that stimulate or inhibit
various pituitary secretor cells.
Responsible for controlling body Fig. 14.1. Glands of the endocrine system.
temperature, hunger, thirst, and other
homeostatic systems and involved in sleep and emotional activity.
Pituitary Gland. The pituitary gland is a pea-sized body attached to the based of the brain. This
gland produces several hormones such as:
• Growth Hormone (GH) – promotes muscle and bone growth
• Prolactin Hormone – milk production after childbirth
• Thyroid-stimulating Hormone (TSH) – stimulates thyroid tissue growth and the production of
thyroid hormones.
• Adrenocorticotrophic Hormone (ACTH) – influences metabolism in adipose tissues.
• Gonadotophics Hormone – stimulate production of male and female sex hormones,
spermatogenesis, and ovarian development.
• Melanophore-stimulating Hormone – influences skin pigmentation.
Thyroid Gland. This composed of microscopic units called follicles. Each follicle consists of a
layer of secretory epithelium surrounding a hormone storing colloid. The follicles extract iodine from
the blood and concentrate it for incorporation into the hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These
hormones play a major role in general metabolism, including calorigenesis, protein turnover,
hydromineral balance, and growth and maturation of the individual.
Adrenal Gland. The adrenal glands are a pair of ductless glands located above the kidney. It
produces adrenaline, a hormone that is released in emergency or emotional situations and stimulates

the heart and the vascular system. Epinephrine also stimulates various metabolic activities and elevates
blood glucose levels.
Gonads. The gonads of the reproductive system produce steroid sex hormones that stimulate
reproductive process. The testes produce androgens (male) and the ovaries produce estrogen,
progesterone and a peptide hormone called relaxin.
Diseases of the Endocrine System
Diseases of the endocrine system primarily result in excess release (hypersecretion) or insufficient
release (hyposecretion) of hormones by one or more glands. Hypersecretion of hormones, usually
associated either with tumors or above-normal cell proliferation (hyperplasia), occurs because of over-
stimulation of endocrine glands by factors such as tropic hormones from the pituitary gland.
Hyposecretion results from several causes, including: surgical or radiation destruction of glands;
glandular atrophy; congenital defects in the enzymes involved in hormone synthesis; and dietary
conditions such as low iodine intake that may result in insufficiency of the thyroid hormones.
Hypothalamus and Pituitary Gland
The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland are closely related. The hypothalamus modulates the
activity of the anterior portion of the pituitary through release or release-inhibitor hormones, which
travel through a portal venous system to the anterior pituitary. These neurohormones regulate the
release of such hormones as growth hormone (GH), adrenocorticotrophin (ACTH), follicle-stimulating
hormone (FSH), prolactin, luteinizing hormone (LH), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TRH).
Decreased secretion in the hypothalamus results in decreased secretion of the pituitary, a state
called secondary hypopituitarism. This under secretion is usually caused by tumors, encephalitis, or
inflammatory lesions.
Hypersecretion Cause Result
Growth Hormone (GH) pituitary tumor gigantism or acromegaly
Gonadotrophins pituitary tumor hypogonadism, menstrual disturbance in women.
Adrenocorticotrophin ACTH tumor Cushing’s disease
Prolactin pituitary tumor galactorrhea, amenorrhea, infertility
Table 14.1. Cause and results of hypersecretions of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands.
Hyposecretion Cause Result
Growth Hormone (GH) pituitary tumor dwarfism
Thyroid-SH pituitary tumor hypothyroidism, intolerance of cold, slow speech,
ATCH (cortisol) pituitary tumor weakness, low blood pressure, diminished blood sugar
FSH and LH pituitary tumor amenorrhea, atrophy of genitals, absence of libido,
Gonadotrophins pituitary tumor hypogonadism, menstrual disturbance in women.
Adrenocorticotrophin ACTH tumor Cushing’s disease
Prolactin pituitary tumor inhibits lactation
ADH pituitary tumor diabetes insipidus, mental retardation
Table 14.2. Cause and results of hyposecretions of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands.
Thyroid Gland
A deficiency of the hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine (hypothyroidism) originates either in
the thyroid (primary) or in the controlling pituitary of hypothalamus (secondary).
Hyposecretion Cause Result
Thyroxine and mentioned cretinism, dry, wrinkled skin, enlarged tongue, drooling
Triiodothyronine mouth, broad face. dwarfism, mental retardation
Various Condition iodine def Goiter

Table 14.3. Cause and results of hyposecretions of the thyroid glands.

Adrenal Gland
Hypersecretion Cause Result
Aldosterone and Cortisol --- Addison’s Disease
Table 14.4. Cause and results of hypersecretions of the adrenal glands.

Hyposecretion Cause Result
Androgen tumor early development of male sex char, (female) baldness,
acne, deep voice, decreased breast size, inc masculinity
Glucocorticoids tumor Cushing’s syndrome
Aldosterone tumor high blood pressure, normal to high serum Na, low
serum K
Table 14.5. Cause and results of hyposecretions of the adrenal glands.

Parathyroid Gland
Deficiency of parathyroid hormone (PTH) leads to a tendency for chronic tetany, or increased
neuromuscular excitability. Chemically, hypoparathyroidism is characterized by low serum calcium
and high serum phosphorus. The disease is caused either by accidental removal or by damage during
removal of the thyroid gland, or by a form of autoimmune disease.
Hypersecretion Cause Result
PTH tumor, high serum calcium, low levels inorganic phosphate,
enlargement, abnormal bone metabolism
Table 14.6. Cause and results of hypersecretions of the parathyroid glands.

Premature development of the ovaries and testes through early but normal hypothalamus-pituitary
maturation, without apparent cause, accelerates body growth but ultimately results in stunting due to
premature fusing of the growing ends of bones. This condition is called true sexual precocity;
reproduction is possible as early as age 6. Brain tumors and encephalitis can also result from premature
development of the ovaries and testes.
The development and functioning of the male reproductive organs and related structures and
characteristics depend on the pituitary gonadotrophins. LH stimulates the cells of the testes to produce
androgen. FSH stimulates the sperm-producing cells of the sex glands. Primary male hypogonadism
consists of a failure to synthesize androgens (testosterone) due to defective enzymes. Secondary male
hypogonadism is caused by a lack either of LH, which inhibits androgen production, or of FSH, which
leads to a failure of spermatogenesis. A deficiency of FSH and LH prior to or during puberty delays the
development of genitalia and secondary sex characteristics. Dwarfism occurs if GH is also deficient.
Primary amenorrhea, the failure of a women to begin menstruation, may be due to pituitary
dysfunction (such as tumors) or to other endocrine disorders (such as hypothyroidism). Secondary
amenorrhea halts the menstrual cycle.
Juvenile diabetes mellitus (Type 1) results from both hereditary and environmental factors and is
characterized by insulin deficiency and a high blood-sugar (glucose) level. In the absence of insulin
treatment, the disease rapidly causes dehydration, ketoacidosis, low blood volume, hypotension, coma,
and death.