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What are the seven endocrine glands?

Learn what the seven endocrine glands are and their functions.

The body contains seven hormone-secreting endocrine glands. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
The body contains seven hormone-secreting endocrine glands.

The seven endocrine glands are the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals, pancreas, testes and ovaries. These glands secrete hormones into the blood system that generally stimulate some change in metabolic activity.

Pituitary

The pituitary gland secretes ACTH to stimulate the adrenal cortex, produces aldosterone to control sodium and potassium reabsorption by the kidneys, FSH to stimulate gonad function and prolactin to stimulate milk secretion of breasts, TSH to stimulate thyroid gland to produce thyroxin, LH to stimulate ovulation in females and testerone production in males, and GH to stimulate general growth. It also stores oxytocin for uterine contraction.

Thyroid gland

The thyroid gland secretes thyroxine (T3) and triiodothyronine (T4) to stimulate metabolic rate, especially in growth and development, and secretes calcitonin to lower blood-calcium levels.

Parathyroids

Parathyroids secrete hormone PTH to increase blood-calcium levels and activates vitamin D and stimulates calcium reabsorption in kidneys.

Adrenals

Adrenals secrete epinephrine and norepinephrine to help the body cope with stress, raise blood pressure, heart rate, metabolic rate and raise blood sugar levels. Aldosterone secreted by the adrenal cortex maintains sodium-phosphate balance in kidneys and cortisol mobilizes fat, raises blood sugar level and helps the body adapt to stress.

Pancreas

The pancreas stimulates glycogen production, fat storage and protein synthesis and secretes insulin to control blood sugar levels. Glucagon secretion raises blood sugar level and mobilizes fat.

Ovaries and testes

The ovaries and testes secrete estrogens, progesterone, or testosterone, to stimulate growth and reproductive processes.

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