Carolinas HealthCare System
Search Health Information   
    Endocrine glands
   

The endocrine system is primarily composed of glands that produce chemical messengers called hormones. Glands of the endocrine system include the pituitary gland, the thyroid gland, the parathyroid glands, the thymus, and the adrenal glands.

Other glands are also included within the endocrine system since they contain endocrine tissue that secretes hormones. These include the pancreas, ovaries and testes.

The endocrine and nervous systems work very closely together. The brain continuously sends instructions to the endocrine system, and in return receives feedback from the endocrine glands. Because of this intimate relationship, the nervous and endocrine systems are referred to as the neuroendocrine system.

The hypothalamus is known as the master switchboard because it’s the part of the brain that controls the endocrine system. The pituitary gland, which hangs by a thin stalk from the hypothalamus, is called the master gland of the body because it regulates the activity of the endocrine glands.

The hypothalamus detects the rising level of the target organ’s hormones then sends either hormonal or electrical messages to the pituitary gland. In response, the pituitary gland releases hormones, which travel through the bloodstream to a target endocrine gland, instructing it to stop producing its hormones.

Here’s how the endocrine system keeps itself in check: eventually, the hypothalamus detects the rising level of the target organ’s hormones, and sends a message to the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland then stops releasing certain hormones, causing the target organ to stop producing its hormones.

The endocrine system constantly adjusts hormone levels so that the body can function normally. This process is called homeostasis.


Review Date: 5/1/2011
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com
About Carolinas HealthCare System
Who We Are
Leadership
Community Benefit
Corporate Financial Information
Diversity & Inclusion
Annual Report
Foundation
Patient Links
Pay Your Bill
Hospital Pre-Registration
Patient Rights
Privacy Policy
Financial Assistance
Quality & Value Reports
Insurance
Careers
Join Carolinas HealthCare System
Physician Careers

For Employees
Carolinas Connect
Connect with Us
Watch Carolinas HealthCare on YoutubeFollow Carolinas HealthCare on TwitterLike Carolinas HealthCare on FacebookContact Carolinas HealthCareJoin Carolinas HealthCare on LinkedInGo to our mobile website.