Body processes

Endocrine Secretion – Function, Task and Diseases

Endocrine Secretion

Endocrine secretion refers to the release of hormones or mediators ( transmitters ) into the blood . The endocrine glands are responsible for secretion . The released active ingredients are already effective in the smallest concentrations.

What is endocrine secretion?

The endocrine secretion represents the secretion of hormone-like active ingredients or mediators through endocrine glands into the blood or the lymph . Even very low concentrations of active ingredients have a major effect on the organism.

The terms “endocrine gland” or “endocrine gland” are used interchangeably. The endocrine glands include specialized endocrine glands, tissues containing hormone-producing cells , specialized neurons , and other organs involved in hormonal control.

Specialized endocrine glands secrete one or more hormones . There are hormones that act directly on the target organ or that control and regulate the formation of other hormones as part of a regulatory mechanism. In this way, control circuits are formed in the organism that guarantee the hormonal balance.

Specialized endocrine glands include the pituitary , pineal , thyroid , parathyroid , adrenal , and islet cells of the pancreas . Tissues with hormone-producing cells are found, for example, in the skin , heart , liver , gastrointestinal tract , and gonads (testicles and ovaries).

The hormones secreted by these tissues are tissue hormones that often act locally. The neurohormones secreted by the neurons are responsible for linking the nervous system to the endocrine system . The central neuroendocrine organ is the hypothalamus , which is part of the brain and, as the most important control center, controls the autonomic nervous system and at the same time regulates the hormone system via important neurohormones.

Function & task

With the help of hormones and mediators, the endocrine secretion controls all bodily processes in their entirety. It is subject to a control circuit that ensures the hormonal balance. Many hormones have their counterparts. For example, the hormone insulin lowers blood sugar levels . Glycogen , which is also formed in the pancreas , acts as an opponent . Glucagon releases glucose by breaking it down from glucagon stored in the liver to keep blood sugar levels steady.

The central endocrine organ is the pituitary gland . Several hormones with different functions are produced in the pituitary gland. The pituitary secretes hormones that act directly on organs, gonadotropic hormones and non-gonadotropic hormones, among others. The directly acting pituitary hormones include growth hormone and prolactin .

The follicle- stimulating hormone (FSH) and the luteinizing hormone (LH) act as gonadotropic hormones . Both hormones regulate ovulation in women and sperm maturation in men.

Other pituitary hormones stimulate the adrenal glands and thyroid to produce hormones. The glucocorticoid hormones cortisol , aldosterone and small amounts of sex hormones are produced in the adrenal glands. While cortisol is responsible for catabolic metabolism , aldosterone regulates mineral balance. The thyroid, in turn, produces the thyroid hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine .

The hypothalamus functions as the central organ of the neuroendocrine regulatory mechanism. In addition to controlling the autonomic nervous system, the hypothalamus secretes various releasing and inhibiting hormones that regulate the formation of other hormones.

In addition to the large hormonal control circuits, there are other smaller control circuits that regulate the formation and inhibition of tissue hormones. At the same time, however, all control circuits are linked to one another. Overall, the hormonal processes are subject to very complicated regulatory mechanisms that are not yet known in detail. New hormones are still being discovered regularly.

Also, more and more organs have to be counted, at least in part, among the endocrine organs. According to recent findings, adipose tissue , for example, is the largest endocrine organ. For example, changes in the volume of fat cells due to fat absorption or fat reduction have a major impact on the effectiveness of insulin.

Diseases & Ailments

In connection with endocrine secretion, there are various clinical pictures that are often not recognized as hormonal disorders. According to recent findings, insulin resistance can already be explained by hormonal processes. For example, if existing fat cells become larger and larger due to fat intake, the concentration of the peptide hormone adiponectin decreases more and more. The exact mode of action of this hormone is not yet known. However, adiponectin has been found to reduce insulin resistance. Since more adiponectin is produced as the cell volume of the fat cells decreases, the effectiveness of insulin also increases again.

Classic examples of hormone disorders are Cushing’s syndrome or adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease). Cushing’s syndrome produces too much cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone secreted in the adrenal cortex. Overproduction can be caused primarily by a tumor in the adrenal cortex or secondarily by hormonal dysregulation. The symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome are expressed in a weakening of the immune system , susceptibility to infections , an increase in blood sugar levels and the development of obesity with a full moon face .

Addison’s disease is characterized by hypofunction of the adrenal cortex. The hormones of the adrenal cortex (cortisol, aldosterone) and the sex hormones are no longer produced in sufficient quantities. The result is a lack of energy, weakness and hyperpigmentation of the skin. The skin turns bronze. The missing hormones have to be substituted for life.

Addison’s disease can also be caused by primary or secondary adrenal insufficiency. The secondary form of the disease is caused by an insufficiency of the pituitary gland, when the hormone ACTH , which stimulates the adrenal cortex, is no longer produced sufficiently.

Furthermore, many forms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism occur. Here, too, there can be primary and secondary causes for the respective disorder.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.