Endocrine System

Endocrine System

The endocrine system is a complex system of glands that produce and secrete hormones directly into the circulatory system to influence, regulate and control metabolism and many of the body's processes. Following is a list of the endocrine glands and their primary functions.

  • Pineal gland: Cone-shaped gland at the base of the brain that secretes the hormone melatonin, which may help to synchronize biorhythms and mark the passage of time.

  • Pituitary gland: A gland that signals other glands to put forth hormones. The pituitary also secretes growth hormone, and anti-diuretic hormone, prolactin, and oxytocin, a hormone which causes contractions of the uterus during labor.

  • Thyroid gland: Produces the hormones thyroxin, triiodothyronine and calcitonin, which stimulate metabolism, body heat production and bone growth.

  • Parathyroid glands: Endocrine glands whose hormones regulate the use and function of calcium and phosphorus in the body.

  • Pancreas: The abdominal organ which secretes insulin and glucagon, which control the utilization of sugar, the body's chief source of energy.

  • Adrenal glands: The adrenals are two small glands which sit on top of each kidney. They release hydrocortisone, which effects metabolism. They also produce androgens such as DHEA and aldosterone, which maintains blood pressure and the body's salt and potassium balance.

  • Ovaries: Female glands which produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone, produce eggs in the ovaries and influence female characteristics.

  • Testes: Male glands which secrete testosterone, which stimulates sperm production and development of male characteristics


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