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The Anatomy of the System


The role of the endocrine system is to help regulate and control the workings of the human body. It plays a critical role in metabolism, sexual development, and growth of humans. The endocrine system exerts its effect through hormones, which are chemical mediators produced by the endocrine glands that travel through the blood and affect the function of distant organs. One important role of the endocrine system is to regulate the bodys metabolism. The thyroid gland can increase or decrease the overall activity level of the body, either ramping up the breakdown of substances needed for energy or decreasing the amount of energy used by the body. Hormones produced by the pancreas, including insulin and glucagon, affect how much glucose is available in the blood for use by the cells of the body. The thyroid gland and the endocrine glands of the pancreas working in concert thus regulate energy availability and use. Another critical role of the endocrine system is to regulate the growth and development of the body. Growth hormone, produced by the pituitary, an organ located in the brain, helps mediate whether bone and muscle should be produced by the body. Although this hormone is more important during childhood, it continues to play an important role in the proper health of adults.




HYPOTHALAMUS A collection of specialized cells that is located in the lower central part of the brain, it is the main link between the endocrine and nervous systems. It secretes hormones that stimulate the release of hormones in the pituitary gland, in addition to controlling water balance, sleep, temperature, appetite, and blood pressure. Secreted hormone Produced by Effect Stimulate thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) released from anterior pituitary (primarily)

Parvocellular Thyrotropin-releasing neurosecretory hormone neurons

Dopamine Dopamine (Prolactin-inhibiting neurons of the Inhibit prolactin released from anterior pituitary hormone) arcuate nucleus Growth hormonereleasing hormone Neuroendocrine Stimulate Growth hormone (GH) release from neurons of the anterior pituitary Arcuate nucleus Inhibit Growth hormone (GH) release from anterior pituitary Inhibit thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) release from anterior pituitary

Neuroendocrine Somatostatin cells of the (growth hormonePeriventricular inhibiting hormone) nucleus Gonadotropinreleasing hormone

Stimulate follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) Neuroendocrine release from anterior pituitary cells of the Stimulate luteinizing hormone (LH) release Preoptic area from anterior pituitary Parvocellular neurosecretory neurons of the Paraventricular Nucleus Magnocellular neurosecretory neurons of the Supraoptic nucleus and Paraventricular nucleus

Corticotropinreleasing hormone

Stimulate adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) release from anterior pituitary


Uterine contraction Lactation (letdown reflex)

Parvocellular neurosecretory Vasopressin neurons, (antidiuretic hormone) Magnocellular neurosecretory neurons

Increases water permeability in the distal convoluted tubule and collecting duct of nephrons, thus promoting water reabsorption and increasing blood volume

PINEAL GLAND Its shape resembles a tiny pine cone, and it is located near the center of the brain, between the two hemispheres, tucked in a groove where the two rounded thalamic bodies join. It secretes melatonin, a hormone that may help regulate when you sleep at night and when you wake in the morning. It was believed to function as a body clock. Some believe it plays a role in the development of the male and female sex glands. Secreted hormone From cells Effect Antioxidant Monitors the circadian rhythm including inducement of drowsiness and lowering of the middle body temperature sleep cycle



PITUITARY GLAND An endocrine gland about the size of a pea and weighing 0.5 grams in humans. It is not a part of the brain. It is a protrusion off the bottom of the hypothalamus at the base of the brain, and rests in a small, bony cavity (sella turcica) covered by a dural fold (diaphragma sellae). The pituitary is functionally connected to the hypothalamus by the median eminence through a small tube called the infundibular stem (Pituitary stalk). The pituitary fossa, in which the pituitary gland sits, is situated in the sphenoid bone in the middle cranial fossa at the base of the brain. It regulates many other endocrine glands. It secretes multiple hormones that, in turn, trigger the release of other hormones from other endocrine sites.The pituitary secretes at least five hormones that directly control the activities of other endocrine glands. These are thyrotropic hormone (affecting the thyroid gland), adrenocorticotropic hormone (affecting the adrenal cortex), and three gonadotropic hormones (affecting the reproductive glands). Anterior pituitary lobe

Secreted hormone
Growth hormone (somatotropin)

From cells


Stimulates growth and cell reproduction Somatotrophs Stimulates Insulin-like growth factor 1 release from liver Thyroid-stimulating Stimulates thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine hormone Thyrotrophs (T3) synthesis and release from thyroid gland (thyrotropin) Stimulates iodine absorption by thyroid gland Adrenocorticotropic Stimulates corticosteroid (glucocorticoid and hormone Corticotrophs mineralcorticoid) and androgen synthesis and (corticotropin) release from adrenocortical cells Beta-endorphin Corticotrophs Inhibits perception of pain In females: Stimulates maturation of ovarian follicles in ovary In males: Stimulates maturation of seminiferous Follicle-stimulating Gonadotrophs tubules hormone In males: Stimulates spermatogenesis In males: Stimulates production of androgenbinding protein from Sertoli cells of the testes In females: Stimulates ovulation In females: Stimulates formation of corpus luteum Luteinizing hormone Gonadotrophs In males: Stimulates testosterone synthesis from Leydig cells (interstitial cells) Stimulates milk synthesis and release from Prolactin Lactotrophs mammary glands Mediates sexual gratification Melanotropes Melanocyte-stimulating Stimulates melanin synthesis and release from in the Pars hormone skin/hair melanocytes intermedia of

Posterior pituitary lobe

Secreted hormone

From cells
Magnocellular neurosecretory cells Parvocellular neurosecretory neurons

Uterine contraction Lactation (letdown reflex) Increases water permeability in the distal convoluted tubule and collecting duct of nephrons, thus promoting water reabsorption and increasing blood volume

Vasopressin (antidiuretic hormone)

THYROID GLAND The thyroid gland sits in the centre of the neck, a the front, below the Adam's apple. It is made of two lobes joined in the centre. At 15 to 20 grams it is one of the largest of the endocrine glands. The thyroid secretes two major hormones called thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). They cause lots of things, but mostly they increase the rate of metabolism in the body. Metabolism is the amount of energy used by the body. An increase means more energy sources like fats and sugars are being broken down, and the body is using more energy to grow. The thyroid is controlled mainly by the release of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) from the pituitary gland. The thyroid also secretes a hormone called calcitonin, important in keeping calcium levels in the body normal. To create the thyroid hormones, the body needs a substance called iodine, which is found mainly in salt. Low levels of thyroid hormone can result in feelings of tiredness, excessive sleep, loss of sex-drive, and smaller, less frequent periods in a woman. Calcitonin is another thyroid hormone and this assists in the regulation of calcium concentration in body. Calcitonin lowers plasma calcium levels by inhibiting the cells which break down bone, and stimulating calcium excretion by the kidneys.

Secreted hormone

From cells

Effect (More potent form of thyroid hormone) Stimulates body oxygen and energy consumption, thereby increasing the basal metabolic rate Stimulates RNA polymerase I and II, thereby promoting protein synthesis


Thyroid epithelial cell

(Less active form of thyroid hormone) (Acts as a prohormone to triiodothyronine) Stimulates body oxygen and energy Thyroid Thyroxine consumption, thereby increasing the basal (tetraiodothyronine) epithelial cells metabolic rate Stimulates RNA polymerase I and II, thereby promoting protein synthesis Parafollicular cells Stimulates osteoblasts and thus bone construction Inhibits Ca2+ release from bone, thereby reducing blood Ca2+


PARATHYROID GLAND The parathyroid glands are small, ovoid, and lie on the back of the thyroid gland. Most people have four parathyroid glands, two at the top, and two at the bottom. There are two types of cell within the parathyroid gland. While calcitonin is released from the thyroid when calcium levels are too high, the parathyroids release their hormone when calcium levels are too low.

Secreted hormone

From cells


Parathyroid hormone

Parathyroid chief cell

Stimulates Ca2+ release from bone, thereby increasing blood Ca2+ Stimulates osteoclasts, thus breaking down bone Stimulates Ca2+ reabsorption in kidney Stimulates activated vitamin D production in kidney


Stimulates PO3-4 release from bones, thereby increasing blood PO3-4. Inhibits PO3-4 reabsorption in kidney, so more PO3-4 is excreted Overall, small net drop in serum PO3-4.

ADRENAL GLANDS The adrenal glands are yellow, pyramid-shaped glands located at the top of the kidneys. They usually weigh roughly 7.5g and are heavier in men than women. Each adrenal gland has two parts: an adrenal medulla (inside), and an adrenal cortex (outside). The adrenal cortex is the outer layer and secretes corticosteroids and male sex hormones which are derived from cholesterol and various other fats, hence their yellowish colour. It is divided into three distinct zones, each producing different hormones. The adrenal medulla is reddish-brown and the cells here are like nerve cells and are activated by the nervous system. The cells types of this region are are known as pheochromocytes, or chromaffin cells. Three major types of hormones are released from the adrenal cortex. These are mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids and a small amount of sex hormones. Mineralocorticoids are called as such due to their effects on the electrolytes of the body, as well as the level of water. Glucocorticoids control sugar levels. There are two horomes produced in the cortex of great importance and they are aldosterone, the major mineralocorticoid and cortisol, the major glucocorticoid. Cortisol Cortisol is a 'stress hormone' and is released in times when the body needs increased energy. It is stimulated for release by Adrenocorticotrophic hormone. Cortisol causes the liver to release more sugar, causes breakdown of muscle and fat for energy and also lowers the amount of energy used by the cells of the body. It is also anti-inflammatory and lowers the body's ability to protect itself.

Adrenal cortex

Secreted hormone

From cells


Stimulates gluconeogenesis Stimulates fat breakdown in adipose tissue Inhibits protein synthesis Glucocorticoids (chiefly zona fasciculata and zona Inhibits glucose uptake in muscle and adipose tissue cortisol) reticularis cells Inhibits immunological responses (immunosuppressive) Inhibits inflammatory responses (antiinflammatory) Stimulates active sodium reabsorption in kidneys Stimulates passive water reabsorption in kidneys, Mineralocorticoids Zona glomerulosa cells thus increasing blood volume and blood pressure (chiefly aldosterone) Stimulates potassium and H+ secretion into nephron of kidney and subsequent excretion In males: Relatively small effect compared to Androgens (including Zona fasciculata and androgens from testes DHEA and testosterone) Zona reticularis cells In females: masculinizing effects

Adrenal medulla

Secreted hormone

From cells

Boost the supply of oxygen and glucose to the brain and muscles (by increasing heart rate and stroke volume, vasodilation, increasing catalysis of glycogen in liver, breakdown of lipids in fat cells) Dilate the pupils


Chromaffin cells

Noradrenaline (norepinephrine)

Chromaffin cells

Boost the supply of oxygen and glucose to the brain and muscles (by increasing heart rate and stroke volume, vasoconstriction and increased blood pressure, breakdown of lipids in fat cells) Increase skeletal muscle readiness.

Dopamine Enkephalin

Chromaffin cells Chromaffin cells

Increase heart rate and blood pressure Regulate pain

PANCREAS The pancreas is a pinkish-grey organ that lies behind to the stomach. The organ is approximately 15cm in length with a long, slender body connecting the head and tail segments. The endocrine pancreas is separate from the exocrine pancreas which is discussed under the gastrointestinal section. The endocrine pancreas is made up of small clumps of cells within the pancreas, called pancreatic islets, or the islets of Langerhans. These account for only 1% of the pancreatic mass. It is composed of three distinct cell types each producing a different hormone. The two important hormones are: Glucagon Secretion of glucagon is controlled by the level of blood sugar, being released when levels are too low. This greatly increases the output of sugar from the liver and returns blood sugar levels to normal. Insulin Insulin is designed to lower blood sugar levels when they become too high and is released in periods when there is a lot of sugar available, like after a meal. A lack of insulin means the body has to use fat for metabolism rather than sugar and can lead to a condition known as ketoacidosis.

Secreted hormone

From cells

Intake of glucose, glycogenesis and glycolysis in liver and muscle from blood

Insulin (Primarily)

Islet cells intake of lipids and synthesis of triglycerides in adipocytes Other anabolic effects glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis in liver Islet cells increases blood glucose level Inhibit release of insulin Islet cells Inhibit release of glucagon Suppress the exocrine secretory action of pancreas. Self regulate the pancreas secretion activities and effect the hepatic glycogen levels.

Glucagon (Also Primarily)


Pancreatic polypeptide PP cells

KIDNEYS The kidneys process the blood to sift out waste products and extra water. This waste and extra water becomes urine, which is stored in the bladder. located below the abdomen .they are reddish brown in color.

Secreted hormone
Renin (Primarily) Erythropoietin (EPO)

From cells
Juxtaglomerular cells Extraglomerular mesangial cells

Activates the renin-angiotensin system by producing angiotensin I of angiotensinogen Stimulate erythrocyte production Active form of vitamin D3

Calcitriol (1,25dihydroxyvitamin D3) Thrombopoietin

Increase absorption of calcium and phosphate from gastrointestinal tract and kidneys inhibit release of PTH stimulates megakaryocytes to produce platelets

THYMUS The thymus is composed of two identical lobes and is located anatomically in the anterior superior mediastinum, in front of the heart and behind the sternum. Like some other endocrine glands, the thymus has two lobes connected by a stalk. The thymus secretes several hormones that promote the development of the body's immune system.

OVARIES They produce the female reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones work together with the gonadotropic hormones from the pituitary to ensure fertility. They are also important for the development of sexual characteristics during puberty. Each month after puberty, increased levels of estrogen signal the pituitary gland to secrete luteinizing hormone. Once LH is secreted, the ovaries release a single egg (a process called ovulation). While an egg travels down the fallopian tube, progesterone is released, which prevents another egg from beginning to mature. The egg then attaches to the lining of the uterus. If fertilization does not occur, the egg is shed outside the body during the monthly process called menstruation.

Ovarian follicle and corpus luteum Secreted hormone From cells

Support pregnancy:


Convert endometrium to secretory stage Make cervical mucus thick and impenetrable to sperm. Inhibit immune response, e.g., towards the human embryo Decrease uterine smooth muscle contractility[6] Inhibit lactation Inhibit onset of labor.



Granulosa cells, theca cells

Raise epidermal growth factor-1 levels Increase core temperature during ovulation Reduce spasm and relax smooth muscle (widen bronchi and regulate mucus)


Reduce gall-bladder activity Normalize blood clotting and vascular tone, zinc and copper levels, cell oxygen levels, and use of fat stores for energy Assist in thyroid function and bone growth by osteoblasts Increase resilience in bone, teeth, gums, joint, tendon, ligament, and skin Promote healing by regulating collagen Provide nerve function and healing by regulating myelin

Secreted hormone

From cells

Effect Support pregnancy:

Progesterone (Primarily)

Inhibit immune response, towards the fetus. Decrease uterine smooth muscle contractility[6] Inhibit lactation Inhibit onset of labor. Support fetal production of adrenal mineralo- and glucosteroids.

Estrogens (mainly Estriol) (Also Primarily) Human chorionic gonadotropin

Other effects on mother similar to ovarian follicle-progesterone Effects on mother similar to ovarian follicle estrogen promote maintenance of corpus luteum during beginning of pregnancy Syncytiotrophoblast Inhibit immune response, towards the human embryo. increase production of insulin and IGF1 Syncytiotrophoblast increase insulin resistance and carbohydrate intolerance Fetal Trophoblasts suppress FSH

Human placental lactogen


TESTES In addition to producing sperm, the testes produce testosterone, the principal male sex hormone. At puberty, increased levels of testosterone bring about the development of sexual characteristics (increased genital growth, facial hair, voice change). Testosterone helps sperm to mature and aids in muscular development.

Secreted hormone

From cells

Anabolic: growth of muscle mass and strength, increased bone density, growth and strength,

Androgens (chiefly testosterone)

Leydig cells

Estradiol Inhibin

Sertoli cells Sertoli cells

Virilizing: maturation of sex organs, formation of scrotum, deepening of voice, growth of beard and axillary hair. Prevent apoptosis of germ cells[5] Inhibit production of FSH

Saint Louis University School of Natural Science Department of Biology



Majal Rani Espiritu

Tampoc, Hannah Dogwe, Aivie Caluza, Jennifer Balindan, Aubrey Nadiahan, Gladys


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