Exocrine vs Endocrine Glands: Medical Terms

Exocrine vs Endocrine Glands: Medical Terms
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  • 0:01 Glands
  • 1:10 Endocrine Glands
  • 1:53 Location & Secretions…
  • 4:31 Exocrine Glands & Types
  • 5:30 Location & Secretions…
  • 7:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

This lesson will cover what glands are and the differences between endocrine and exocrine glands. We will look at the various types of exocrine glands. We will also discuss each gland, its secretion, and location in the body.

Glands

Do you recall all the changes your body went through during that thing called puberty? For you guys, your shoulders got broader, facial hair developed and you may have even gotten a deep voice, or at least deeper than it was. For females, your breasts got bigger, you developed hair and you started that dreaded monthly event that changed your life forever! Now that I have included everyone, let's talk about what caused each of these events to occur.

Every change I just mentioned happened all thanks to all the glands in your body. Perhaps you knew that glands were responsible for those things. Somewhere in your mind you may have a question, though. What exactly are glands? Glad you asked! Let's get some answers.

Glands are specialized groups of cells or organs that secrete chemical substances. There are many glands all over the body, and they all fall into categories under two main classifications. The main classifications for glands are endocrine and exocrine. We're going to take a closer look at each classification of gland now.

Endocrine Glands

When most people think of glands, they think about endocrine glands. These are glands that secrete chemical substances into the bloodstream or tissues of the body. Endocrine glands are characterized by being ductless, which means that they do not empty their chemicals into ducts before they are released from the gland.

The chemical substances secreted by endocrine glands are called hormones. Hormones are like messengers that are responsible for telling some part of the body to do something or to stop doing something. So, now we know what endocrine glands are. Now, let's take a brief glance at a few examples of endocrine glands and what they secrete.

Locations and Secretions of Endocrine Glands

We mentioned puberty at the beginning of this lesson. Let's look at some of the endocrine glands responsible for these changes.

The pineal gland is located in the brain. It secretes melatonin in response to dark conditions in the environment to induce sleep. Lack of activity by this gland is why you sometimes cannot sleep. Melatonin also regulates the female reproductive cycle and starts puberty.

Working alongside melatonin, the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, cause puberty to occur. The ovaries are glands that release the estrogen and progesterone to promote female sex characteristic development. The testes are glands that release testosterone to promote male sex characteristic development.

The anterior pituitary gland is responsible for secreting luteinizing hormone, which causes release of hormones from the ovaries or testes in addition to ovum maturation and ovulation in females. The anterior pituitary also secretes follicle-stimulating hormone causing the ovaries to develop an ovum and testes to produce sperm.

Other anterior pituitary gland hormones include; thyroid-stimulating hormone to stimulate the thyroid to release hormones, adrenocorticotropic hormone to stimulate the adrenal cortex to release hormones, growth hormone to stimulate growth of all organs, and prolactin to cause breast development during pregnancy and milk secretion following pregnancy.

The anterior pituitary gland releases hormones based on another gland called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus secretes stimulating hormones to stimulate the anterior pituitary gland to release its hormones. It also releases inhibitory hormones to stop the anterior pituitary gland from releasing its hormones.

Our pancreas acts as both an endocrine and exocrine gland. The endocrine secretions include insulin, which removes sugar from the bloodstream, and glucagon, which releases sugar into the bloodstream. Loss of pancreatic endocrine function is the cause of diabetes mellitus.

There are several other endocrine glands in the body that do everything from tell other organs to release their hormones to telling various organs of the body how to keep the body in homeostasis.

Exocrine Glands and Types

The other main classification of glands is exocrine. Exocrine glands are glands that secrete chemical substances into ducts to be released. Most exocrine glands release their substances to the outside of the body while others release their substances to the outside of the gland onto a surface still within the body.

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