Endocrinology

Endocrinology is the study of hormones, their signalling pathways, and the diseases associated with them. Hormones are chemical messengers produced by an organ and are released into the blood, to be transported to a distant site to exert their function. Hormones are found in all organisms with more than one cell and are found in plants and animals, and influence or control a wide range of physiological activities, such as growth, development, puberty, alertness, sugar regulation, appetite and bone growth.

Hormones are classified into three classes according to their chemical makeup: Amines - such as dopamine, adrenalin and noradrenalin. Steroids, consisting of five groups - glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, androgens, estrogens, and progestogens. Peptides - such as the peptide hormones insulin, ghrelin and vasopressin.

Peptide hormones produced by secretory nervous tissue are considered to be neuropeptides.

Endocrinology also involves study of the diseases of the endocrine system with hormone imbalance contributing to many major disorders. These may relate to too little or too much secretion of a hormone, too little or too much activity of a hormone, or problems with receiving the hormone. Diseases of the endocrine system are often called hormone imbalances and are usually caused by hypo- or hyperfunction of an endocrine gland. Prominent examples include Acromegaly, Cushing Syndrome, Diabetes, Dwarfism, Osteoporosis, Hermaphroditism, Delayed and Precocious Puberty and Thyroid Diseases.

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