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The Endocrine System

Laszlo Vass, Ed.D. Version 42-0023-00-01

Lab RepoRt assistant

This document is not meant to be a substitute for a formal laboratory report. The Lab Report Assistant is simply a summary of the experiments questions, diagrams if needed, and data tables that should be addressed in a formal lab report. The intent is to facilitate students writing of lab reports by providing this information in an editable file which can be sent to an instructor.

What is the purpose of this exercise? Are there any safety concerns associated with this exercise? If so, list what they are and what precautions should be taken. Purpose: Describe the major endocrine glands. Identify and describe the structures and features of the endocrine glands on the microscope slides. This lab requires electronic slides so there is no safety concerns associated with this exercise.

Exercise 1: The Pituitary Gland

A. Please describe in detail the structures and features you observed on the pituitary gland slide. The pituitary gland slide was broken down into 2 slides the anterior and posterior. Anterior Pituitary Gland Slide: It is composed of chromophobes and acidophiles. Chromophobes are histological structures which do not stain readily, and appear more pale on the slide. Acidophiles are darker in color, they thrive under highly acidic conditions (usually at pH 2.0 or lower). Posterior Pituitary Slide: It is composed of pituicytes (neuroglia) and herring bodies. The pituicytes is a glial cell of the posterior pituitary. They generally stain dark purple with an H&E stain, and are among the easiest structures to identify. Herring bodies are lightly colored and they represent the terminal end of the axons from the hypothalamus, and hormones are temporarily stored in these locations. The Herring Body also contains ADH and oxytocin but, are not stored simultaneously in the same Herring body. m


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Data Table 1: Do some research and fill in the data table below.


Functions Controls secretion of certain hormones from the adrenal cortex.

Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)

Antidiuretic hormone (ADH) Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)

Causes kidneys to reduce water excretion; in high concentration, raises blood pressure. Development of egg-containing follicles in ovaries; stimulates follicular cells to secrete estrogen; in males, stimulates production of sperm cell.

Growth hormone (GH)

Stimulate increase in size and rate of division of body cells; enhances movement of amino acids through membranes; promotes growth of long bones Promotes secretion of sex hormones; releases egg cell in females

Luteinizing hormone (LH)

Melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH)

Stimulates the production and release of melanin by melanocytes in the skin and hair. (controls skin pigmentation) Contracts muscles in the uterine wall and those associated with milk-secreting glands


Prolactin (PRL) Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)

Sustains milk production after birth; amplifies the effect of LH in males Controls secretion of hormones from the thyroid gland. m


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A. Describe the function of the endocrine system. The human endocrine system consists of endocrine glands that secrete hormones into the blood to promote homeostasis. The blood transports the hormones to their target cells, where they bring about a variety of biochemical and physiological changes. At the target cells, hormones bind to specific membrane receptors or to receptors within the cells.

B. What is a gland?
A cell, group of cells, or organ of endothelial origin that selectively removes materials from the blood, concentrates or alters them, and secretes them for further use in the body or for elimination from the body.

C. Describe how negative feedback regulates the secretion of most hormones. As hormone levels rise in the blood and the hormone exerts its effect, negative feedback inhibits the system and hormone secretion decreases. Then, as hormone levels in the blood decrease and the hormones effects wane, inhibition of the system ceases, and secretion of that hormone increases again. As a result of negative feedback, hormone levels in the bloodstream remain relatively stable, fluctuating slightly around an average value. D. Why is the pituitary gland called the master endocrine gland? The pituitary is often called the master gland because the hormones it secretes play an active part in controlling the activities of all the other endocrine glands.

Exercise 2: The Thyroid Gland

A. Please describe in detail the structures and features you observed on the thyroid gland slide Thyroid gland slide: It is composed of Thyroid Follicles, Principal Cells, Parafollicular Cells, and Colloid (in the follicle). Thyroid follicles are cells in the thyroid gland that are responsible for the production and secretion of thyroid hormones which is T4 and T3. Principal cells (chief cells) are small and pale and synthesize the hormone. Parafollicular cells are the clear cells that are scattered among the follicular cells. They are found in the middle and third or lateral lobes of the thyroid. Colloid is a fluid that contains pro-hormone and thyroglobin. m


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A. What is the overall function of the thyroid gland? The gland is specialized to remove iodine from the blood. The thyroid gland takes iodine (from foods) and converts it into
two hormones the body requires: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). T3 and T4 regulate protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism, along with generating heat and regulating bone growth. The extrafollicular cells produce the third type of hormone , which influences blood concentrations of calcium and phosphate ions.

B. What is the function of thyroxin? Its chief function is to increase the rate of cell metabolism. It increases the rate of energy release from carbohydrates; increases rate of protein synthesis; accelerates growth; stimulates activity in the nervous system. m


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C. What is the function of triiodothyronine?

Triiodothyronine increases rate of energy release from carbohydrates; increases rate of protein synthesis; accelerates growth; stimulates activity in the nervous system. It is five times more potent than thyroxine.

D. What is the function of calcitonin?

Lowers blood calcium and phosphate ion concentrations by inhibiting release of calcium and phosphate ions from bones and by increasing the rate at which calcium and phosphate ions are deposited in bones; increases excretion of calcium by the kidneys.

E. What is hyperthyroidism? What are its effects on the body? Hyperparathyroidism (abbreviated as "HPT") occurs when one or more parathyroid glands enlarge and produce too much parathyroid hormone. The extra amount of parathyroid hormone tricks the body into thinking that the level of calcium in the blood is too low. As a result, calcium moves into the bloodstream from places in the body where it is normally stored, namely the bones. This movement of calcium into the bloodstream has several undesirable consequences. First, the level of calcium in the bloodstream will become too high, causing a condition known as hypercalcemia. Second, over time too much borrowed calcium from bones can cause weakness and thinning of the bones (a condition called osteoporosis). Osteoporosis may even cause bones to break. Among many other consequences, excess calcium can form stones in the kidneys. It causes effects such as high metabolic rate, sensitivity to hear, restlessness, hyperactivity, weight loss, protruding eyes, goiter

Exercise 3: The Parathyroid Glands

A. Please describe in detail the structures and features you observed on the parathyroid gland slide Parathyroid Gland Slide: Chief cells and Reticular Connective Tissue. Chief cells in the parathyroid glands produce parathyroid hormone. Parathyroid chief cells constitute one of the few cell types of the body that regulate intracellular calcium levels as a consequence of extracellular changes in calcium concentration. Reticular connective tissue is named for the main structural part of the tissue. The cells that make the reticular fibers are fibroblasts called reticular cells.

A. What does parathyroid hormone (PTH) do?
The parathyroid glands secrete a hormone that regulates the concentrations of calcium and phosphate ions in the blood. m


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B. Based on your answer to Question A, can you live without your parathyroid glands? Why or why not?
Yes. You can live without your parathyroid glands because supplements such as calcium and vitamin d if taken regularly will do what the parathyroid glands do. m


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Exercise 4: The Thymus Gland

A. Please describe in detail the structures and features you observed on the thymus gland slide

A. What does the hormone thymosin do? Thymosin is a hormone produced by the thymus and it works with the lymph nodes and white blood cells, for example, to buildup immunity.

B. Based on your answer to Question A, explain why the thymus gland shrinks as we reach adulthood. The T cells are produced by the thymus gland, which is its most important function. Leukocytes, which are white blood cells, are also called lymphocytes and they leave the thymus gland when the blood cells mature and they go to the lymph nodes and spleen. After this is done, new T cells will be manufactured. Viruses, bacteria and other foreign against attack the body and antibodies provide protection against them. This protection is greatly influenced by the immune system, whose parts are white blood cells. Organs can wear and tear and these cells can look after this process. Also, the T cells will help with the proper functioning of the body systems. The abnormal growth of the cells can be prevented and the cancer prevention is possible as well. The T cells go to the thymus gland from the bone marrow and they are homed there until they become active. Once this happens, they will reach the blood stream and go to the various organs to give protection against many diseases.

Exercise 5: The Adrenal Gland

A. Please describe in detail the structures and features you observed on the adrenal gland slide m


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A. The adrenal glands are in part controlled by the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. Name the hormones involved in this regulation and the functions of each.

B. Where in the adrenal gland are mineralocorticoids made?

The outer zone (zona glomerulosa) of the adrenal cortex .

C. What are the functions of mineralocorticoids? Give an example of a mineralocorticoid hormone.

Mineralocorticoids regulate the concentration of mineral electrolytes, such as sodium and potassioum ions. Specifically, aldosterone causes the kidney to conserve sodium ions and to excrete potassium ions.

D. Where in the adrenal glands are glucocorticoids made?

Adrenal cortex

E. What are the functions of glucocorticoids? Give an example of a glucocorticoid. The glucocorticoids main function is to promote glucose formation from amino acids and glucose uptake in the brain. Cortisol (hydrocortisone) is a glucocorticoid, which means it affects glucose metabolism. It is produced in the middle zone (zona fasciculate) of the adrenal cortex and has a molecular structure similar to aldosterone. In addition to affecting glucose, cortisol influences protein and fat metabolism.

Exercise 6: The Pancreas

A. Please describe in detail the structures and features you observed on the pancreas slide m


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A. Explain the difference between an exocrine gland and an endocrine gland. Endocrine glands secrete their hormones directly into the bloodstream. Exocrine glands secrete their hormones into a duct that leaves the body externally: for example, sweat glands empty onto the skin. B. What is the exocrine function of the pancreas? Exocrine Function: The pancreas contains exocrine glands that produce enzymes important to digestion. When food enters the stomach, these pancreatic juices are released into a system of ducts that culminate in the main pancreatic duct. The pancreatic duct joins the common bile duct to form the ampulla of Vater which is located at the first portion of the small intestine, called the duodenum. The common bile duct originates in the liver and the gallbladder and produces another important digestive juice called bile. The pancreatic juices and bile that are released into the duodenum help the body to digest fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.

C. What endocrine hormones does the pancreas produce? What is the function of each? The endocrine hormones in the pancreas produces insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin. It appears that the hormones insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin act in concert to control the flow of nutrients into and out of the circulation. The relative concentrations of these hormones regulate the rates of absorption and peripheral disposal of substances such as glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids. The anatomic proximity of the B, A, and D cells in the islets is significant. Somatostatin and glucagon appear to have a paracrine relationship whereby they influence the secretion of each other, and both affect the rate of insulin release. D. Diabetes is a serious health problem in the United States. Explain what diabetes is and the differences between the Type 1 and Type 2 forms of the disease. Diabetes is a condition where the body fails to utilize the ingested glucose properly. This could be due to lack of the hormone insulin or because the insulin that is available is not working effectively. In Type 1 Diabetes, the person's own body has destroyed the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Person with Diabetes Type 2 has one of two problems, and sometimes both: 1. Not enough insulin is being produced. 2. The insulin is not working properly - this is known as insulin resistance.

Exercise 7: The Gonads

Please describe in detail the structures and features you observed on the testes and ovary slides m


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A. What are the endocrine functions of the testes? The testes produce testosterone. B. What does testosterone do?
In men, testosterone plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as the testis and prostate as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle, bone mass, and the growth of body hair. Testosterone also produces sperm. In addition, testosterone is essential for health and well-being as well as the prevention of osteoporosis.

C. What are the endocrine functions of the ovaries? In addition to producing eggs, the ovaries produce three major hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and inhibin. Estrogen
and progesterone are steroid hormones and inhibin is a protein hormone.

D. What do estrogen and progesterone do?

Estrogens stimulate enlargement of accessory organs, including the vagina, uterus, uterine tubes, and ovaries, as well as the external structures; stimulate the endometrium to thicken; and are also responsible for the development and maintenance of female secondary sex characteristics. Progesterone promotes changes in the uterus during the female reproductive cycle, affects the mammary glands, and helps regulate secretion of gonadotropins from the anterior pituitary gland.

E. How do birth control pills work in terms of endocrine function? Birth control pills stop ovulation. Most birth control pills contain synthetic forms of two hormones. These synthetic hormones stabilize a woman's natural hormone levels, and prevent estrogen from peaking mid- cycle.

Without the estrogen, the pituitary gland does not release other hormones that normally cause the ovaries to release mature eggs. Synthetic estrogen in the pill works to stop the pituitary gland from producing follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) in order to prevent ovulation. Support the uterine lining (endometrium) to prevent breakthrough bleeding mid-cycle. Synthetic progestin works to stop the pituitary gland from producing LH in order to prevent egg release. It makes the uterine lining inhospitable to a fertilized egg. It partially limits the sperm's ability to fertilize the egg. It thickens the cervical mucus to hinder sperm movement (although this effect may not be key to preventing pregnancy).

Exercise 8: Endocrine System Roundup

A. Describe the effects that a malfunctioning pituitary gland would have on an individual?
The pituitary is the 'Master Gland' and controls all the other glands. If it is not functioning properly, any or all of the m


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other glands and their hormones may be affected.

B. Which endocrine glands would be most affected by prolonged mental stress on the body? (i.e work, lack of time, worrying etc.) Explain your reasoning. Adrenal glands are the anti-stress glands of the body and the reserve which the body falls back on when it is faced with stressful situations. It is their job to enable your body to deal with stress from every possible source, ranging from injury and disease to work and relationship problems. Your resiliency, energy, endurance, and your very life all depend on their proper functioning. Once the capacity to cope and recover is exceeded some form of adrenal fatigue occurs. D. Explain, in general, how a hormone works. Hormones are powerful chemical messengers that circulate through your bloodstream to specific target cells where they generate a wide range of biological responses. Think of hormones as the Prime Movers of your physical and emotional well-being. Every time you get angry, become tired,, laugh, cry, have sex, wake up, feel hungry, or fall asleep your body is responding to hormones. That is because hormone levels can impact virtually every major system and organ in your body. m


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