The endocrine system is made up of all hormone-producing glands that are responsible for regulating the different organs and organ processes in the body. This includes; tissue function, reproduction, metabolism, sleep, growth and body protection from pathogens, among many other body processes. The glands work by receiving instructions from the nervous system and chemical receptors in the blood.
The Pituitary gland is a small gland connected to the hypothalamus. It serves a number of functions with some being gender specific. In women, it is responsible for the release of Oxytocin, an essential hormone responsible for the onset of contractions during childbirth and the release of breast milk. It is also responsible for the release of Prolactin, which is responsible for breast milk production. In both sexes, the pituitary gland produces the Luteinizing hormone, which is responsible for the production of sex hormones in the ovaries and testes. Further, it produces the Follicle stimulating hormone, which is responsible for the production of gametes in the ova and sperm. The glands are also responsible for the production of Human growth hormone, which is responsible for growth and repair of a variety of tissues in the body. The glands produce the Thyroid stimulating hormone and the Adrenocorticotropic hormone, which stimulates the adrenal cortex to produce its hormones.
The Thyroid gland, which is located at the base of the neck, is responsible for the production of the Calcitonin, Triiodothyronine and Thyroxine hormones. Calcitonin is responsible for calcium ion regulation in the blood. Triiodothyronine and Thyroxine are responsible for the regulation of the body’s metabolic rate.
The Parathyroid glands, which are located on the side of the thyroid gland, are responsible for the production of the parathyroid hormone. The parathyroid hormone is responsible for calcium ion homeostasis. Further, the hormone conserves the calcium ions by triggering the kidneys to return the filtered out ions.
The Adrenal glands, which are located next to the kidneys, are further divided into two; the Adrenal medulla and the Adrenal cortex. The Adrenal medulla is responsible for the production of epinephrine and norepinephrine, the two hormones responsible for the “fight or flight” response to stress or danger. The Adrenal cortex is responsible for the production of Glucocorticoids, Mineralocorticoids and Androgens. The Glucocorticoids are responsible for the breakdown of proteins into glucose. The Mineralocorticoids are responsible for the regulation of mineral ions in the body. Androgens are also produced in the adrenal cortex to regulate growth in cells connected to the male hormones.
The Pancreas is a large gland located in the abdominal cavity. It is responsible for the regulation of sugar levels in the blood. To increase blood sugar, the pancreas produces glucagon, which triggers the liver to break down glycogen into glucose. It is the glucose that is then released into the bloodstream. To reduce the blood sugar levels, the pancreas produces insulin. Insulin triggers the absorption of glucose from the blood, which is then stored in the cells as glycogen.
The Gonads (ovaries and testes) are a combination of organs and glands responsible for the production of the body’s sex hormones. The sex hormones determine the secondary sex characteristics in adult males and females.