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The Endocrine System

B. Pimentel, M.D.
University of Makati
College of Nursing
Functional Organization

• Endocrine system are composed of glands that
secrete chemical signals into the circulatory
• Endocrine Glands – secret chemicals into the
• Hormones – secretory products of endocrine
glands, chemical signal
• Ligand – chemical signal of the hormone.
– Produced in small quantities by a group of cells.
– Secreted into the interstitial space
– Enters circulatory system, where it is transported
– Enters a target tissue, where it imparts an influence
on the function of that tissue.
Nervous and Endocrine System

Amplitude Modulated Signals

• Hormones secreted by most endocrine glands

• Either an increase or decrease in hormone

• Concentration of the hormone in the circulatory
has a direct response on the target tissue
Nervous and Endocrine System

Frequency Modulated Signals

• All or none principal of the nervous system

• Low frequency or low action potential will result
in a weak signal

• Strong action potential will result in a strong
response to the stimulus.
Nervous and Endocrine System


• Endocrine system often has a slower and
longer duration of action on target tissues and
is more generally distributed throughout the
• Nervous system faster response and shorter
duration than the endocrine system

• Neurohormones released by neurons secrete
into the circulatory system and function similar
to endocrine hormones.
• Some neurons directly innervate endocrine
glands and influence the secretory activity.
Intercellular Chemical Signals

Intercellular Description Example
Autocrine Secreted by cells in a local area Prostaglandins
and influences the activity of the
same cell type from which it was
Paracrine Produced by a range of tissues Histamine
and secreted into tissue spaces; Prostaglandin
usually has a localized effect on  
other tissue.
Hormone Secreted into the blood by Thyroxine,
specialized cells, travels some Insulin
distance to target tissues,
influences specific activities.
Intercellular Chemical Signals

Intercellular Description Example
Chemical Signals

Neurohormone Produced by axons and Oxytocin,
function as hormones Antidiuretic
Neurotransmitter Produced by neurons and Acetylcholine
or secreted into the extracellular Epinephrine
neuromodulator space by presynaptic nerve
terminals, travels short
distances, influences post
synaptic cells.

Pheromone Secreted into the Sex
environment, modifies pheromones
physiology and behavior of
other individuals.
Structural Categories of Hormones
Category Examples
Proteins Growth hormone, Prolactin, Insulin
Glycoprotein Follicle stimulating hormone
Lutenizing hormone
Thyroid stimulating hormones
Parathyroid hormone
Polypeptides Thyrotropin releasing hormones
Antidiuretic hormone
Adrenocorticotropin hormone
Melanocyte stimulating hormones
Hypothalamic hormones
Structural Categories of Hormones

Category Examples

Amino Acid derivatives Epinephrine
Thyroid hormones (T3 & T4)

Lipids Estrogens
Steroids (cholesterol Progestins
precursor) Testosterone
Structural Categories of Hormones

Category Examples

Lipids Prostaglandins
Fatty acid Thromboxanes
Regulation of Hormones

1. Non Hormonal Regulation of Hormone
secretion. Glucose a carbohydrate in the blood
stream regulates the secretion of insulin

a.    Increased blood glucose stimulates increased
insulin secretion from the pancreas.

b.     Insulin increases uptake of glucose by cells,
decreases levels of glucose in the blood.
Regulation of Hormones

2.  Nervous system regulation of hormonal
secretion. The sympathetic division of the
nervous system. The adrenal gland secretes
epinephrine or Norepinephrine (fight or flight).

a.    Stimuli such as stress or exercise activates the
sympathetic nervous system.

b.    Neurons stimulate the release of epinephrine and
smaller amounts of Norepinephrine from the
adrenal medulla
Regulation of Hormones

3.   Hormonal regulation of hormone secretion.
Hormones can stimulate or inhibit the secretion
of other hormones.

a.    Thyroid releasing hormone (TRH) is released from
neurons in the hypothalamus and travels in the
blood to the anterior pituitary gland.

b.    TRH stimulates the release of thyroid stimulating
hormone (TSH) from the anterior pituitary gland.
TSH travels in the blood to the thyroid gland.
Regulation of Hormones

c.    TSH stimulates the secretion of thyroid hormones
(T3 & T4) from the thyroid gland into the blood

d.    Thyroid hormones act on tissues.

e. Thyroid hormones also have a negative feed back
effect on the hypothalamus and the anterior
pituitary to inhibit both TRH and TSH secretion.
This negative feed back helps keep blood thyroid
hormone levels within a normal range.  
Transport and Distribution

• Hormones are dissolved in blood plasma and
transported either in a free form or bound to a
plasma protein.

• As the concentration of the free form hormone
in the blood increases, they will diffuse to
target cells.

• As the concentration of the free form hormone
decreases there are decreased diffusion, and
fewer target cells affected.
Transport and Distribution

• Hormones that are bound to plasma proteins
are in equilibrium with the free form hormone.

• Each hormone will have a specific plasma

• Hormones bound to plasma proteins remain at
a relatively constant concentration.

• A large decrease in the plasma protein
concentration can result in the loss of a free
form hormone from the blood.
Binding to Target Cells

1. Binding site – portion of a protein or
glycoprotein where a Ligand will bind

2. Receptor Site – a protein or glycoprotein
receptor, where the receptor site allows only a
specific type of Ligand to bind.

3. Specificity – the tendency for each type of
Ligand to bind to a specific type of receptor,
and not others.
Binding to Target Cells
Binding to Target Cells

4. Membrane bound receptors – receptors for
ligands that span across the plasma membrane
and have their receptor sites exposed
– Examples; large hormones that are proteins
glycoproteins, polypeptides, and some smaller
molecules such as epinephrine and Norepinephrine.

5. Intracellular receptors – are for lipid soluble
ligands that can pass through the plasma
membrane. Example; thyroid, testosterone,
estrogen, progesterone, aldosterone, and
Binding to Target Cells
Down Regulation

• The rate at which receptors are synthesized
decreases in some cells after exposure to a

• The combination of ligands and receptors can
increase the rate at which the receptor
molecules are degraded.

• Tissues that exhibit down regulation of
receptor molecules are adapted to respond to
short-term increases of the hormone
Down Regulation

– Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH), which is
released from neurons of the hypothalamus →
secretion of LH (leutinizing hormone) and follicle
stimulating hormone (FSH) from the anterior pituitary
cells → number of GnRH receptors molecules in the
pituitary to decrease several hours after exposure to
the hormone
Up Regulation

• Periodic increases in the sensitivity of some
cells to hormones.

• Increase of receptor molecule synthesis.

– increased number of receptor molecules for
leutinizing hormone (LH) in cells of the ovary during
each menstrual cycle. Follicle stimulating hormone
(FSH) molecules secreted by the pituitary increase
the rate of LH receptor molecule synthesis in cells of
the ovary.
Pituitary Gland

• 1cm. Diameter, 0.5 to 1.0 grams.
• Located on the sella turcica, inferior to the
hypothalamus and is connected to it by a stalk
of tissue the infundibulum.
• Divided into two functioning parts
– Posterior Pituitary or Neurohypophysis
• Continuous with the brain
– Anterior Pituitary or Adenohypophysis
Pituitary Gland
Pituitary Gland

Communication of the Pituitary and the

• Hypothalamohypophysial Portal System –
extends from the hypothalamus to the anterior

• Act as either releasing hormones – increasing
secretion of the anterior pituitary, or inhibiting
hormones – decreasing the secretions of
anterior pituitary hormones
Pituitary Gland

Stimulating Hormone Inhibiting Hormone Effects

Thyroid-stimulating Release of thyroid
hormone releasing stimulating hormone
hormone (TRH)
Corticotropin-releasing Release of
hormone (CRH) adenocorticotropic
hormone (ACTH)

Growth-hormone Release of growth
releasing hormone hormone
Growth-hormone Inhibits the release
inhibiting hormone of growth hormone
Pituitary Gland

Stimulating Hormone Inhibiting Hormone Effects

Somatostatin Inhibits the release of
growth hormone

Gonadotropin-releasing Release of luteinizing
hormone (GnRH) hormone (LH) and
Follicle stimulating
hormone (FSH)

Prolactin-inhibitory Inhibits prolactin secretion
Pituitary Gland

Hormones Target Tissue Response


Antidiuretic Kidney Increased water
Hormone reabsorption
Oxytocin Uterus, mammary Increased uterine
glands contractions, increased
milk expulsion
Pituitary Gland

Hormones Target Tissue Response


Growth Most tissues Increased; growth in
Hormone tissues, amino acid
uptake and protein
synthesis, breakdown of
lipids and release of fatty
acids, glycogen
synthesis, blood glucose
levels, and somatomedin
Pituitary Gland

Hormones Target Tissue Response

Thyroid Thyroid gland Increased thyroid
stimulating hormone secretion
Hormone (TSH)

Adrenocorticotr Adrenal cortex Increased glucocorticoid
opic Hormone hormone secretion

Lipotropins Fat tissue Increased fat breakdown
Pituitary Gland

Hormones Target Tissue Response

Beta endorphins Brain Analgesia in the brain,
inhibition of gonadotropin
releasing hormone

Melanocyte Melanocytes Increased melanin
Stimulating production to make skin
Hormone (MSH) darker

Luteinizing Ovaries Ovulation and
Hormone (LH) Testes progesterone production
in ovaries; testosterone
synthesis and support for
sperm cell production in
Pituitary Gland

Hormones Target Tissue Response

Follicle Follicles in ovaries in Follicle maturation and
Stimulating females; seminiferous estrogen secretion in
Hormone (FSH) tubules in males ovaries; sperm cell
production in males
Prolactin Ovaries and mammary Milk production in
glands lactating women;
increased response of
follicle to LH and FSH.
Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH)

• Transported to and stored in the posterior

• Released in blood stream to the kidneys.

• Functions in the regulation of osmolality and
volume of the extracellular fluid.

• Stimulates smooth muscle cells of the uterus.

• Responsible for milk ejection in lactating
Thyroid Gland

• Location: lateral to the superior portion of the trachea
just inferior to the larynx.

• Gross Anatomy: two lobes connected by a narrow band
of thyroid tissue called the isthmus.

• Histology: numerous follicles, which are small spheres,
composed of simple cuboidal epithelium. The center of
each follicle is filled with thyroglobulin to which thyroid
hormones are bound. Parafollicular cells are found
between follicles and produce and secrete Calcitonin.
Thyroid Gland

• Triiodothyronine (T3) and tetraiodothyronine (T4) target
most cells of the body.
• Calcitonin targets bone tissue.

– TSH from the anterior pituitary must be present to maintain
thyroid hormone synthesis and secretion.
Thyroid Gland

Thyroid Hormone Synthesis

Iodide trapping in the follicular cells → iodide is
oxidized to iodine → released in to the follicular
colloid → combines with thyroglobulin →
mono/di-iodotyrosine (MIT, DIT) →
triiodotyrosine (T3), thyroxine (T4) bound to
thyroglobulin → re-enters the follicule cells by
pinocytosis → split by lysosomes from
thyroglobulin → free T3 and T4
Thyroid Gland (Regulation)




Ant. pituitary


Thyroid gland Negative Feedback

T3/ T4

Target organ
Thyroid Gland (Regulation)
Parotid Glands

• Location: embedded in the posterior part of
each lobe of the thyroid gland. Four
parathyroid glands are present.

• Histology: cells are organized in densely
packed cords.
Parotid Glands

• Hormone: Parathyroid hormone regulates
calcium levels in body fluids. Targets bone,
kidneys, and intestines.

• Stimulates osteoclast activity in bone and can
cause the number of osteoclasts to increase.

• Increases calcium reabsorption in the kidneys

• The primary regulation for secretion of PTH is
blood calcium levels.
Vit. D, Kidneys and Parathyroid
↓ (liver) Inhibition
↓ (kidney) Activation Parathyroid hormone

Intestinal epithelium Inhibition

Intestinal absorption of calcium

Plasma calcium concentration
Adrenal Glands

• Location: superior poles of the kidneys.

• Gross Anatomy: surrounded by abundant
adipose tissue, enclosed in connective tissue
and have a well developed vascular supply.
They are composed of an inner medulla and an
outer cortex

• Histology: the medulla consists of closely
packed polyhedral cells centrally located in the
Adrenal Glands
Adrenal Glands

• Adrenal Medulla
– Epinephrine and Norepinephrine. Target tissues are
heart, blood vessels, liver and fat cells.

• Adrenal Cortex
– Three types: Mineralocorticoids, Glucocorticoids, and
Adrenal Glands

• Mineralocorticoids – aldosterone is the in the greatest
amount. Increases blood levels of sodium by
increasing the rate of sodium reabsorption in the
kidneys. Increases potassium secretion.

• Glucocorticoids – major one is cortisol. Targets many
cells and tissues. Increase fat catabolism, decrease
glucose and amino acid uptake in skeletal muscle,
increase gluconeogenesis, and increase protein
degradation. Also responsible for maturation of fetal

• Androgens – androstenedione, stimulates pubic and
axillary hair growth and sexual drive in females.
Adrenal Glands
Adrenal Steroid Synthesis



Progesterone 17-OH-


Aldosterone Cortisol Androgen
Regulation Of Cortisol Sercretion



Ant. pituitary

ACTH Adrenal cortex Negative Feedback


• Location: between the greater curvature of the
stomach and the duodenum.

• Gross Anatomy: elongated structure approx. 15
cm long. The head of the pancreas lies near
the duodenum, and its body and tail extend
toward the spleen.

• Histology: the pancreas is both an
exocrine and endocrine gland. The
exocrine portion contains acini, which
produce pancreatic enzymes, and a duct
to the small intestine. The endocrine
portion is composed of pancreatic islets
(islets of Langerhans). These islets
contain alpha, beta, and delta cells.

Cells in Hormone Target tissue Response

Beta Insulin Liver, skeletal Increased uptake and
muscle, adipose use of glucose and amino
tissue acids.

Alpha Glucagon Liver Increased breakdown of
glycogen, release of
glucose into the
circulatory system
Delta Somatostatin Alpha and beta Inhibition of insulin and
cells glucagon secretion