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The Endocrine System

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Physiology 1021
Sarah Mc Lean

MODULE 13 The Endocrine SystemIn the first module you learned that homeostasis was the process by which conditions inside the body are maintained at constant levels This was performed by two special systems in the body using negative feedback loopsthe nervous system and the endocrine system The endocrine system consists of a series of glands that secrete different chemicals into the blood These hormones then travel throughout the body to their target site to initiate their effect Endocrine SystemFunctionThe functions of the endocrine system include the maintenance of the internal environment body temperature body fluid volume osmolality and so on adaptation to stress control of growth andmetabolism and also the control ofreproduction In contrast to the nervous system the actions of the endocrine system are slower to take effect yet lastlonger and are generally morewidespread throughout the body While the nervous system has control over organs with which it is in direct contact the endocrine system can indirectly affect many organs of the body at a distance by secreting chemicals into the bloodGlandsAn endocrine gland is a group of specialized cells that synthesize store and release a very special chemical into blood This chemical is called a hormone The hormone is released into the bloodstream and circulates throughout the body to specific target cells that have receptors for the hormone The hormone will then have its effect on the target cell and can either stimulate or inhibit the activity of the cell There are a number of glands located throughout the body We have already discussed the hypothalamus and pituitary glands in the nervous system module We will examine them again in more detail here The other glands in the body include the thyroid adrenal pancreas and the gonads ovaries in the female and testes in the male We will examine the male and female gonads in the reproductive module HormonesAll hormones can be divided into three basic categories based on their chemical makeup Hormones derived from the amino acid Tyrosine thyroxine triiodothyronine which are secreted from the thyroid glandHormones derived from proteins calcitonin parathyroid hormone the pituitary and pancreatic hormones and most of the releasing and inhibiting hormones from the hypothalamusThe steroid hormones cortisol aldosterone estrogen progesterone and testosterone which are all derived from cholesterol
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