Endocrine diseases – Overview

Endocrine diseases - Overview 1 Medicine Made Easy Education
The endocrine system refers to glands that release hormones (chemical messengers) directly into the bloodstream through which they travel to affect distant organs. Most hormones are secreted into the systemic circulation but hypothalamic releasing hormones are released into the pituitary portal system to reach the pituitary gland. Exocrine glands, in contrast, secrete their products into ducts to reach their target.

The pancreas has both endocrine (glucagon, insulin, and somatostatin secreted by α, β, and δ cells, respectively, in the islets of Langerhans) and exocrine (digestive enzymes such as amylase secreted by acinar cells into the small intestine via the pancreatic duct) functions.

Most hormones travel in the circulation bound to proteins but it is only the free hormone that is biologically active. However, concentrations of binding proteins may be altered by disease, pregnancy or drugs and affect the amount of free hormone.

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