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The endocrine system is a collection of cells, tissues, glands, and organs that work together to produce and regulate signaling molecules called hormones.* Hormones are released into the bloodstream, bind to receptors or target cells, and function to regulate their activity to maintain homeostasis. The locations of selected endocrine glands and hormones released are shown in Figure 5–1. This system overlaps with the nervous system, and its responsibilities include regulating blood pressure, metabolism, growth and development, and reproduction. Hormone secretion is highly regulated by various mechanisms, including hormonal signals from the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland and positive and negative feedback from target cells.


The endocrine system. (Reproduced with permission from Molina PE. Endocrine Physiology, 5th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2018, Figure 1–1.)

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High-Yield Terms to Learn
Addison disease A rare disease marked by deficient secretion of adrenocortical hormones (such as cortisol) that is characterized by fatigue, muscle weakness, weight loss, low blood pressure, irritability or depression, and brownish pigmentation of the skin, and is caused by progressive destruction of the adrenal glands (as by an autoimmune response or infection).
Addisonian crisis Low cortisol levels can cause weakness, fatigue, and low blood pressure. There may be more symptoms with untreated Addison disease or damaged adrenal glands due to severe stress, such as a car accident or an infection. These symptoms may include sudden dizziness, vomiting, and loss of consciousness.
Aldosterone A steroid hormone C21H28O5 of the adrenal cortex that functions in the regulation of the salt and water balance of the body.
Anabolism The constructive part of metabolism especially concerned with macromolecular synthesis.
Androgens A male sex hormone (eg, testosterone).
Buffalo torso Extra fat around the torso; is a symptom of Cushing syndrome.
Catabolism A destructive metabolism involving energy release resulting in the breakdown of complex materials within an organism.
Cretinism A usually congenital abnormal condition marked by physical stunting and mental retardation and caused by severe thyroid deficiency—also called infantile myxedema.
Cushing syndrome An abnormal condition caused by excess levels of corticosteroids, especially cortisol, in the body due to either hyperfunction of the adrenal gland (as from adrenal adenoma or hypersecretion of ACTH by the pituitary gland) or to prolonged use of corticosteroid medications (as prednisone) and that is characterized by a variety of signs and symptoms including a change in appearance marked by moon face with plethora and truncal obesity, easy bruising, fatigue, muscle weakness, and hypertension.
Diabetes mellitus A variable disorder of carbohydrate metabolism caused by a combination of hereditary and environmental factors and usually characterized by inadequate secretion or utilization of insulin, excessive urine production, excessive amounts of sugar in the blood and urine, and thirst, hunger, and loss of weight.
Diabetic coma A ...

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