The Endocrine System

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  • The Endocrine System -a network of glands throughout the body that manufacture and secrete hormones.
    • Endocrine glands -produce and secrete hormones into the bloodstream to regulate cell and organ activity in the body. Signals are sent to these glands from the hypothalamus to get them to release stimulating hormones  that signal target glands to release THEIR hormones, thus regulating the endocrine system.
    • Hormones are chemical messengers that travel through the bloodstream and stimulate target cells to release their hormones. It helps in processes such as regulating mood and stress.
    • Pituitary gland - the 'master' gland. It produces hormones to influence the release of hormones from other glands. It has two main parts :
      • The anterior (front)  releases ACTH in response to stress and stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol.
      • The posterior (back) releases oxytocin which stimulates the contraction of the uterus during childbirth and is important for mother-infant bonding.
    • Adrenal glands
      • The inner part (the adrenal medulla) releases adrenaline and noradrenaline  that prepare the body for fight or flight by increasing heart rate and blood flow (adrenaline) and increasing blood pressure (noradrenaline.)
      • The outer part of each gland (the adrenal cortex) produces cortisol, which regulates and supports lots of bodily functions like cardiovascular.

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