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Endocrine glands

Endocrine glands release (secrete) hormones into the bloodstream.

The endocrine glands include:

  • Adrenal
  • Hypothalamus
  • Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas
  • Ovaries
  • Parathyroid
  • Pineal
  • Pituitary
  • Testes
  • Thyroid

Information

Hypersecretion is when an excess of one or more hormone is secreted from a gland. Hyposecretion is when the amount of hormones that are released is too low.

There are many types of disorders that can result when too much or too little of a hormone is released.

Disorders that may be associated with abnormal hormone product from a particular gland include:

Adrenal:

Pancreas:

Parathyroid:

  • Tetany (abnormal cramping of muscles)
  • Renal calculi (kidney stones)
  • Excessive loss of minerals from bone (osteoporosis)

Pituitary:

Testes and ovaries:

  • Lack of sex development (unclear genitalia)

Thyroid:

References

Barrett EJ. Organization of endocrine control. In: Boron WF, Boulpaep EL, eds. Medical Physiology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 47.

Melmed S, Auchus RJ, Goldfine AB, et al. Principles of endocrinology. In: Melmed S, Auchus, RJ, Goldfine AB, Koenig RJ, Rosen CJ, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 1.

Strachan MWJ, Newell-Price JDC. Endocrinology. In: Ralston SH, Penman ID, Strachan MWJ, Hobson RP, eds. Davidson's Principles and Practice of Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 18.

Text only

  • Endocrine glands

    Endocrine glands - illustration

    Endocrine glands release hormones (chemical messengers) into the bloodstream to be transported to various organs and tissues throughout the body. For instance, the pancreas secretes insulin, which allows the body to regulate levels of sugar in the blood. The thyroid gets instructions from the pituitary to secrete hormones which determine the rate of metabolism in the body (the more hormone in the bloodstream, the faster the chemical activity; the less hormone, the slower the activity).

    Endocrine glands

    illustration

  • Brain-thyroid link

    Brain-thyroid link - illustration

    Although the thyroid gland releases the hormones which govern growth and metabolism, the brain (the pituitary and the hypothalamus) manages the release and the balance of the amount of hormones circulated.

    Brain-thyroid link

    illustration

    • Endocrine glands

      Endocrine glands - illustration

      Endocrine glands release hormones (chemical messengers) into the bloodstream to be transported to various organs and tissues throughout the body. For instance, the pancreas secretes insulin, which allows the body to regulate levels of sugar in the blood. The thyroid gets instructions from the pituitary to secrete hormones which determine the rate of metabolism in the body (the more hormone in the bloodstream, the faster the chemical activity; the less hormone, the slower the activity).

      Endocrine glands

      illustration

    • Brain-thyroid link

      Brain-thyroid link - illustration

      Although the thyroid gland releases the hormones which govern growth and metabolism, the brain (the pituitary and the hypothalamus) manages the release and the balance of the amount of hormones circulated.

      Brain-thyroid link

      illustration

    Tests for Endocrine glands

     
     

    Review Date: 4/24/2021

    Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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