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The Endocrine System

I. Introduction
A. Endocrine system work with or in harmony with the nervous system to
control and coordinate all the activities of the body.
1. Endocrine glands=ductless glands that produce hormones
(examples: Pineal gland, pituitary gland, thyroid gland,
thymus, pancreas, etc.)
2. Exocrine glands=glands with ducts producing non-hormone
substances (examples: salivary glands, sebaceous glands,
sweat glands, the liver, etc.)
B. Substances secreted by the endocrine glands are called hormones,
chemical messengers released to the blood to be transported throughout
the body and to regulate the metabolic functions of other cells in the
1. Other chemicals similar to hormones:
a. Paracrine=hormones that diffuse to nearby target cells
in the body.
b. Autocrine=hormones that act on the cell that made it.
c. Eicosaniods=hormone-like substances derived from
arachidonic acid and act only on cells in their
immediate vicinity (example: leukotrienes and
2. Chemical nature of hormones:
a. Amino-acid based hormones=the majority of
hormones are of this type
1. Amines= simple hormones derived from the
amino acid tyrosine. (example: Epinephrine)
2. Protein and peptides=chains of amino acids
hooked together (examples: ADH and
b. Steroid based hormones=lipid soluble hormones
derived from cholesterol (examples: testosterone)
3. Major functions of hormones
a. Integrative=reach all the cells of the body and permit
different tissue groups to act as a whole in response to
internal or external stimuli.

b. Homeostatic= maintenance of internal environment by

changing cellular activities (metabolism, protein
synthesis, permeability of cell membranes, etc).
c. Growth=control rates and types of growth of the
4. Mechanisms of hormone action
a. Lipid soluble hormones
1. Thyroid and steroid hormones can cross the
cell membrane and bind to intracellular
receptors in the cytoplasm or nucleus.
2. The hormone-receptor complex triggers
activation or inactivation of specific genes on
the DNA strand.
3. Synthesis of new protein by transcription and
translation alters the cellular activity causing a
physiological response.
4. Example of hormones that utilize this
method: testosterone, estrogen, progesterone,
glucocorticoids, and mineralcorticoids
b. Amino-acid based hormones (water soluble)
1. Cyclic AMP signaling mechanism
i. The hormone binds to a cell
membrane receptor which causes the
receptor to change shape and allowing
it to bind the inactive G protein.
ii. The G protein becomes activated as it
converts GTP to GDP to make another
iii. The active G protein binds
to adenylate cyclase which then
generates cyclic AMP from ATP.
iv. Cyclic AMP (the second messenger)
acts intracellularly to activate protein
kinase enzymes that mediate cell
responses to hormones.
v. Examples of hormones that utilize this
method: ACTH, FSH, LH, Glucagon,
PTH, TSH, Calcitonin, and
2. Pip-calcium signal mechanism

i. The hormone binds to a cell

membrane receptor which binds to
the inactive G protein.
ii. The G protein becomes activated as it
converts GTP to GDP.
iii. The active G protein binds
to phospholipase which splits
PIP2 into two fragments (IP3 and
DAG) that act as second messengers.
iv. IP3 and DAG activate protein
kinases and increase the cytoplasmic
concentration of Ca2+ which also acts a
second messenger to modify the
activity of cellular proteins.
v. Examples of hormones that utilize this
method: Catecholamines, TRH, ADH,
LHRH, and Oxytocin.
5. Mechanisms of hormonal control
a. Feedback Systems
1. Negative feedback system=physiological
response causes decreased release of the hormone
(example: the action of insulin and glucagon)
2. Positive feedback system=physiological response
causes increased release of the hormone
(example: the action of oxytocin)
b. Responsiveness of Target Cell is dependent on 3 factors
1. Concentration of hormone
2. Abundance of receptors
3. Interaction of other hormones
i. Permissive effect=hormone requires
current or recent exposure to another
hormone (example: Renin and
Angiotensin II)
ii. Synergistic effect=2 hormones together
cause a stronger response than their
individual responses (example: ADH,
Aldosterone, Epinephrine,
Renin/Angiotensin II)
iii. Antagonistic effect=one hormone inhibits
the response of another (calcitonin and

c. Controls based on stimuli


Endocrine Glands
A. Pituitary Gland (Hypophysis)
1. Also known as the master gland.
2. Located within the sella turcica of the sphenoid bone.
3. Associated closely with the hypothalamus by
the infindibulum.
4. Differentiated into the anterior pituitary (adenohypophysis, or
the glandular portion), the posterior pituitary
(neurohypophysis, or the nervous portion) and the avascular
pars intermedia located in between.
a. Posterior lobe (neurohypophysis)
1. Connected with the hypothalamus via the
supraopticohypophyseal tract.
2. Doesnt produce the secretions; it merely stores
the secretions produced by the hypothalamus:
i. Oxytoxin=stimulates contraction of the
smooth muscle of the uterus in pregnancy
and initiates labor cycle.
ii. Anti-diuretic hormone (ADH)=controls
water reabsorption by the distal convoluted
tubules and collecting ducts of the kidney
nephrons and stimulates smooth muscles
of the digestive tract and blood vessels.
b. Anterior lobe (adenohypophysis)
1. Controlled by hormones produced by the
hypothalamus such as TRH and LHRH.
2. More appropriately called the master gland
i. Growth Hormone (GH) = produced by
somatotropic cells of the anterior lobe
stimulate most body cells to increase in
size and divide (particularly bones and
skeletal muscle cells).
ii. Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH or
thyrotropin) = stimulates the thyroid to
grow and increase secretions of thyroid
iii. Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH
or corticotropin) = stimulates
adrenocortical (adrenal gland) growth and

increase secretions of adrenal gland

iv. Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH or
gonadotropins) = stimulate growth of
ovarian follicles in females and
spermatozoa in males.
v. Luteinizing Hormones (LH) = (and
interstitial cell stimulating hormone in
males) stimulates ovulation in females and
testosterone production in the males.
vi. Prolactin (PRL or luteotropic hormone) =
maintains corpus luteum and stimulates
milk productions and breast development.
vii. Melanocyte-Stimulating
Hormone (MSH) = stimulates
melanocytes which regulate pigments,
melanin, of the skin.
B. Thyroid Gland
1. Located in the neck below the larynx and anterior to the
2. Two lobes connected by an isthmus.
3. Follicular cells of the thyroid produce a glycoprotein
called thyroglobulin, also known as colloid, which is the
derivative of most thyroid hormones.
4. Hormones are synthesized from iodinated thyroglobulin and
tyrosine and regulate the speed of all basic cellular processes.
a. Thyroid hormone, or Thyroxine (T4) =stimulates
growth processes and control metabolic turnover of
b. Triiodothyronine (T3) =also controls metabolic
turnover of oxygen and stimulates growth processes.
c. Calcitonin (CT) = a polypeptide hormone produce by
the C cells of the thyroid gland that lower blood calcium
levels by inhibiting osteoclasts and
enhancing osteoblasts and calcium uptake and
incorporation into the bone matrix. Produced by
the parafollicular cells rather than the follicular cells.
5. Hormone production is regulated by the thyroid-stimulating
hormone (TSH) produced by the pituitary gland.
C. Parathyroid Gland
1. Four tiny glands located on the posterior thyroid.

2. Possesses chief cells that produce

the Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) which helps to regulate
calcium blood levels.
a. Bones: activates osteoclasts causing calcium and
phosphate ions to be released into the blood.
b. Intestine: increases calcium absorption from food.
c. Kidneys: promotes activation of vitamin D and
increases calcium reabsorption in the nephrons.
D. Adrenal Gland
1. Located retroperitoneal and superior to the kidney.
2. Composed of two parts of layers: the outer cortex and the
inner medulla.
a. Cortex produces steroid hormones from cholesterol
(corticosteroids) and is divided into three regions:
1. Zona glomerulosa (outer)releases mineralocorticoids,
principally aldosterone, which controls
electrolyte balance in the kidneys.
2. Zona fasciculate (middle)produces glucocorticoids such
as cotisol and cortisone which influence
metabolism of glucose, protein, and fat;
controlled by ACTH.
3. Zona reticularis (inner)produces gonadocorticoids, also known as
androgens or adrenal sex hormones, such
astestosterone which influence masculinization.
b. Medulla releases hormones when the body is under
stress and consists of hormone-producing cells
called chromaffincells.
1. Epinephrine-(80%) elevates blood sugar,
regulates body during stress or anger, raises blood
pressure, heart beat, and increases sympathetic
effects of the nervous system.
2. Norepinephrine-helps maintain blood pressure,
and accounts for 20% of the hormones released
by the medullary portion of the adrenal gland.
E. Thymus Gland
1. Located posterior to the sternum and between the lungs

2. Large in infant, increases in size until puberty and then

shrinks as the individual continues to age.
3. The major hormonal product of the thymus gland
is thymosin which appears to be essential for the normal
development of T lymphocytes and the immune response.
F. Pineal Gland
1. Located in the roof of the 3rd ventricle of the brain.
2. Composed of secretory cells called pinealocytes.
3. The major product is melatonin whose concentrations rise
and fall in a diurnal cycle.
G. The Pancreas
1. Located posterior and inferior to the stomach
2. Considered to be both and endocrine and exocrine.
3. Recall the Islets of Langerhans:
a. Alpha cells produce glucagon which breaks down
glycogen to glucose, synthesizes glucose from lactic acid
and other non-carbohydrate molecules, and release
glucose to the blood by liver
cells. Controls: gluconeogenesis and gylcogenolysis
b. Beta cells produces insulin which lowers blood glucose
levels by enhancing membrane transport of glucose into
body cells as well as by stimulating glycolysis,
glycogenesis, and lipogenesis.
c. Delta cells produce somatostatin which inhibits insulin
and glucagon.
4. Acinar cells produce pancreatic enzymes which
are exocrine secretions that travel via ducts to the small
H. Other endocrine tissue
1. Ovaries:
a. Located in the pelvic cavity.
b. Produce estrogen which regulates secondary sex
characteristics (breast, pelvic, etc).
c. Also produce progesterone which helps to stimulate the
uterus to bring about thickening and vascularization of
the endometrium in preparation for implantation of a
fertilized egg.
2. Testes:
a. Located in the scrotum.
b. Secretes testosterone, the male sex hormone, which
brings about development of secondary sex

characteristics, normal sex behaviors, and production of

c. Also produces inhibin which inhibits the release of FSH
and GnRH when sperm counts are high.
3. Placenta:
a. Temporary organ only formed during pregnancy.
b. Produces hCG hormone (humanchorionic
gonadotrophic) with aid in maintaining pregnancy and
keeping the corpus luteum intact.
4. Heart:
a. Secretes ANP that literally means producing salty
b. Inhibits aldosterone release by the adrenal cortex.
5. Others:
a. Kidney secretes erythropoietin for red blood cell
b. Skin produces choleoclaciferol, the inactive form of
vitamin D.
c. Adipose tissue releases leptin following the uptake of
glucose and lipids resulting in satiety.
d. Gastrointestinal tract possesses cells that
produce serotonin, secretin, gastrin, and

Homeostatic Imbalances of the Endocrine System

A. Gigantism=hypersecretion of GH is children.
B. Acromegaly=hypersecretion of GH in adults.
C. Progeria=severe hyposecretion of GH where body tissues begin to
atrophy causing premature aging.
D. Pituitary dwarfism=hyposecretion of GH in children resulting in slow
bone growth.
E. Galactorrhea=inappropriate lactation due to hypersecretion of
F. Gynecomastia=breast enlargement.
G. Myxedema=hypothyroid syndrome resulting in low metabolic rate,
feeling chilled, constipation, thick dry skin, puffy eyes, edema.
1. Goiter = when myxedema results from lack of iodine.
2. Cretinism = severe hypothyroidism in infants.
H. Graves disease=hyperthyroidism resulting in elevated metabolic rates,
sweating, protrusion of the eyeballs (exophthalamos), rapid irregular
heartbeat, nervousness, etc.

I. Hyperparathyroidism=resulting in calcium being leached from the

J. Hypoparathyroidism=results in low calcium levels and increases the
excitability of neurons.
K. Diabetes insipidus=deficiency of ADH secretion causing an increase in
urine output (chronic dehydration).
L. Aldosteronism=(a.k.a. Conn's Disease) hypersecretion of aldosterone
resulting in hypertension and edema as well as accelerated excretion of
potassium ions.
M. Addisons disease=hyposecretory disease of the adrenal cortex
resulting in excess potassium in blood.
N. Cushings disease=increases in secretion of ACTH due to an ACTHreleasing tumor of the pituitary or by high doses of glucocorticoids
drugs; results in reduction of blood potassium levels. Moon-face
O. Masculinization or virilization=hypersecretion of gonadocorticoids.
P. Diabetes mellitus:
1. Type I=before age 20 from loss of beta cells of the pancreas
resulting in the individual becoming insulin dependent.
2. Type II=over age 40 from target cells inability to use insulin;
the individual is said to be non-insulin dependent.
Q. Hirsutism=excessive hair growth (usually occurring in women)