Overview of the Endocrine System
Major Components of the System
The endocrine system consists of the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal and pineal glands, along with the pancreas, gonads and thymus. It also includes glands that secrete hormones in addition to other functions. Hormones are released into extracellular fluid by ductless glands and are carried to target cells via the bloodstream. Only the target cells for a given hormone can respond to it.
The endocrine system also interacts and cooperates with the nervous system to control the activities of other organ systems. Because signaling by neurons can regulate the release of hormones, the nervous and endocrine systems often overlap in function.
- Campbell, N.A., and Reece, J.B. (2008). Biology, 8th Edition. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Benjamin Cummings.
- Raven, P.H. (2005). Biology, 7th Edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
- Illustration 0345 Endocrine System Female © Bill Blausen CC-BY-SA 3.0.
- Illustration 0346 Endocrine System Male © Bill Blausen CC-BY-SA 3.0.
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