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44: The Endocrine System

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    • 44.1: Regulation of Body Processes by Chemical Messengers
      Chemical signals are released by signaling cells in the form of small, usually volatile or soluble molecules called ligands. A ligand is a molecule that binds another specific molecule, in some cases, delivering a signal in the process. Ligands can thus be thought of as signaling molecules. Ligands interact with proteins in target cells, which are cells that are affected by chemical signals; these proteins are also called receptors.
    • 44.2: Overview of Hormone Action
      Hormones cause cellular changes by binding to receptors on target cells. The number of receptors on a target cell can increase or decrease in response to hormone activity. Hormones can affect cells directly through intracellular hormone receptors or indirectly through plasma membrane hormone receptors. Lipid-derived (soluble) hormones can enter the cell by diffusing across the plasma membrane and binding to DNA to regulate gene transcription.
    • 44.3: The Pituitary and Hypothalamus- The Body's Control Centers
      There are three basic types of hormones: lipid-derived, amino acid-derived, and peptide. Lipid-derived hormones are structurally similar to cholesterol and include steroid hormones such as estradiol and testosterone. Amino acid-derived hormones are relatively small molecules and include the adrenal hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine. Peptide hormones are polypeptide chains or proteins and include the pituitary hormones, antidiuretic hormone (vasopressin), and oxytocin.
    • 44.4: The Major Peripheral Endocrine Glands
      Hormones have a wide range of effects and modulate many different body processes. The key regulatory processes that will be examined here are those affecting the excretory system, the reproductive system, metabolism, blood calcium concentrations, growth, and the stress response.
    • 44.5: Other Hormones and Their Effects
      Both the endocrine and nervous systems use chemical signals to communicate and regulate the body's physiology. The endocrine system releases hormones that act on target cells to regulate development, growth, energy metabolism, reproduction, and many behaviors. The nervous system releases neurotransmitters or neurohormones that regulate neurons, muscle cells, and endocrine cells.

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