The endocrine system is a control system of ductless endocrine glands that secrete chemical messengers called hormones that circulate within the body via the bloodstream to affect distant organs. It does not include exocrine glands such as salivary glands, sweat glands and glands within the gastrointestinal tract.
Signal transduction of some hormones with steroid structure involves nuclear hormone receptor proteins that are a class of ligand activated proteins that, when bound to specific sequences of DNA serve as on-off switches for transcription within the cell nucleus. These switches control the development and differentiation of skin, bone and behavioral centers in the brain, as well as the continual regulation of reproductive tissues.
Diseases of the endocrine system are common, such as diabetes mellitus and thyroid disease. The field of medicine that deals with disorders of endocrine glands is endocrinology, a branch of the wider field of internal medicine.
Table of endocrine glands and the hormones secreted
In both sexes:
(starting from the head and going downwards)
In males only
In females only
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46