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Functional Endocrinology: Understanding Hormones From the Pituitary to the Receptor Sites

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The body secretes and circulates 50 different hormones to different organs in the body. Hormones are the chemical substances that coordinate the activities of living organism growth. They are secreted through the endocrine glands and travel through the bloodstream to different organs in the body to function properly. When there is an excessive quantity or an reduced quantity of hormones being produced, it can cause the body to malfunction and develop chronic illnesses.

The Pituitary Gland Functions

In neuroendocrinology, an endocrine gland can’t make a hormone without activation from a pituitary-stimulating hormone. The pituitary-stimulating hormone helps regulate hormones by secreting them to the endocrine glands. The pituitary gland is known as the “master gland” since it controls the activity of the other endocrine glands and it consists of 3 parts known as the anterior, intermediate and posterior lobes.

Anterior Lobe

The anterior pituitary gland is located in the sella turcica and is controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain. It secretes a quantity of peptides and glycoprotein hormones that help regulate the growth, metabolism, reproduction and stress response. The anterior pituitary gland produces 6 hormones that circulate to their respective targets in the body.

  • ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone): This hormone is a tropic hormone as it regulates cortisol and androgen production to the adrenal cortex. Cortisol or stress hormones stimulates the release of ACTH, while the adrenal cortex secretes glucocorticoids to the body’s metabolism.
  • GH (Growth hormone): This hormone helps regulate the body’s growth, metabolism, and composition. GH is secreted by the somatotroph cells located primarily in the lateral wings of the anterior lobe. GH can also secrete in al pulsatile fashion and can have a maximal release during a circadian rhythm at night.
  • TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone): This hormone is involved by coordinating the signal regulation of the hypothalamus, the pituitary, and the thyroid. It requires the oxidation of dietary iodine, since iodine is absorbed through the small intestine and transported to the thyroid. After the iodine is transported it can be concentrated, oxidized and then incorporated into thyroglobulin to be formed to T4 and T3 later on.
  • LH (Luteinizing hormone): This hormone is highly important to both men and women, since it affects the sex organs and plays a role in puberty, menstruation and fertility. For women, it creates progesterone, which help regulate menstruation and supports pregnancy in the female body. For men, it creates testosterone, which helps regulates fertility, muscle mass, fat distribution, and red blood production in the male body.
  • FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone): This hormone plays an important part in the reproductive system and is responsible for ovarian follicles. For females, FSH helps produce estrogen, which is a group of sex hormones that help promote the development and maintenance of female characteristics in the human body, For males, FSH helps produce spermatogenesis and regulates sperm function in the male body.
  • Prolactin: This is a protein hormone in the anterior lobe. It has the ability to promote lactation to nursing mothers. It synthesizes within the pituitary gland, the central nervous system, the immune system, and the uterus.

Intermediate lobe

The intermediate lobe is composed of a homogeneous population of the endocrine cells, the melanotrophs and secretes several bioactive peptides. It contains very few blood vessels and can be virtually avascular. The melanotrophs are richly supplied by nerve fibers that originate from the hypothalamus.

  • Melanocyte-stimulating hormone: This hormone has many functions in a diverse physiological role. It affects skin pigmentation and studies have shown that it has antiapoptotic and anti-inflammatory effects that help decrease in nephrotoxin exposure to the body.

Posterior lobe

The posterior lobe is similar to the anterior lobe since they both control endocrine function and the body’s hormonal response to the environment. The hypothalamus receives neural signals from the brain and secretes polypeptide and neuropeptide hormones for storage in the posterior lobe until they are ready to be released. The hormones in the posterior lobe are in charge of regulating water retention and inducing uterine contractions.

  • ADH (Antidiuretic hormone): Also known as vasopressin, this hormone is a nonapeptide that is synthesized in the hypothalamus. It plays a bunch of important roles in controlling the body’s osmotic balance, regulates blood pressure, and makes sure that the kidneys are working. ADH is mainly responsible for tonicity homeostasis as they act primarily in kidneys to increase water reabsorption.
  • Oxytocin: Also known as the “love hormone”, oxytocin is also a neurotransmitter that is involved in childbirth and breast-feeding. It has benefits as a treatment for a number of conditions like depression, anxiety and intestinal problems and is produced in the hypothalamus. Studies show that females have a higher level of oxytocin than males, especially to nursing mothers with their babies.

Free-fraction Hormones

When an endocrine gland synthesizes a hormone, it is released into circulation and bound to as a protein. Hormones attach themselves to proteins but they can’t bind to hormone receptors. So what a hormone needs to do is to lose its binding protein to become a “free-fraction” hormone. Studies have stated that a fraction of a hormone that is free is called in vitro and it is equivalent to the fraction of a hormone that is free and available to be transported into tissues are called in vivo. Free-fraction hormones make up less than 1% of all circulating hormones since they don’t impact the hypothalamus-pituitary feedback loop.

Hormone Metabolites

Hormones are metabolized by hepatic and microbiome biotransformation pathways into various hormone metabolites. Hormone metabolites have their own impact on cell receptors, studies have shown that this impact is not fully understood yet but hormone metabolites are not a reflection of direct endocrine gland production but it can be metabolized in the liver as well. Hormone metabolites can bind to hormone receptors or can be eliminated by renal or fecal clearance pathways.

Conclusion

All in all, the body secretes and circulates 50 different hormones to different organs in the body. These hormones are chemically produced in the body and keep an eye on what each of the different organs is doing. It is important that the hormone receptors are functioning properly so that an individual is feeling good both inside and out. If there is a hormonal imbalance in the body, it can cause dysfunction and chronic illnesses to a person.

October is Chiropractic Health Month. To learn more about it, check out Governor Abbott’s proclamation on our website to get full details on this declaration.

The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal and nervous health issues as well as functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or chronic disorders of the musculoskeletal system. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .


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Cuzzo, Brian. “Vasopressin (Antidiuretic Hormone, ADH).” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2 Feb. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526069/.

Ellis, Mary Ellen, and Rachel Nall. “Luteinizing Hormone (LH) Test: What It Is and Why It’s Important.” Healthline, 29 Aug. 2017, www.healthline.com/health/lh-blood-test.

Ellis, Ronald E, and Gillian M Stanfield. “The Regulation of Spermatogenesis and Sperm Function in Nematodes.” Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4082717/.

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Genes, S G. “Role of the Liver in Hormone Metabolism and in the Regulation of Their Content in the Blood.” Arkhiv Patologii, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1977, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/334126.

Goyal, Shikha. “List of Important Hormones and Their Functions.” Jagranjosh.com, 12 Mar. 2019, www.jagranjosh.com/general-knowledge/list-of-important-hormones-and-their-functions-1516176713-1.

Gunawardane, Kavinga. “Normal Physiology of Growth Hormone in Adults.” Endotext [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 12 Nov. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279056/.

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MacGill, Markus. “Oxytocin: The Love Hormone?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 4 Sept. 2017, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275795.php.

MacGill, Markus. “Testosterone: Functions, Deficiencies, and Supplements.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 6 Feb. 2019, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/276013.php.

Nichols, Hannah. “Estrogen: Functions, Uses, and Imbalances.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 2 Jan. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/277177.php.

Patel, Hiran. “Physiology, Posterior Pituitary.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 27 Oct. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526130/.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, ATN, IFMCP, CIFM

Dr. Alex founded Injury Medical Clinic in 1991 with an aim to provide patients advanced clinical care plans based on Evidence-Based Medicine. “We use diagnostic protocols that are based on sound clinical research and our integrative medicine treatment experiences. Our integrative specialists are comprised of health care professionals from a large number of clinical paradigms rooted in physical medicines, nutrition, Lifestyle, and functional medicine,” Dr. Alex says proudly. “Our wellness approach focuses on how injuries require deep investigation, treatment, and personalized care into the various systems of human physiology,” he further explains. For example, a hip injury does not only affect a hip. A non-treated hip injury or chronically degenerated hip directly involves supportive structures and may cause collateral physiological changes to the knees and the cardiovascular systems concomitantly. If left untreated, the patient may even indirectly suffer metabolic syndromes and secondary degenerations, leading to clinical obesity if left unchecked. That is why they take a total wellness approach with every patient. Dr. Alex has some exciting plans for 2021. “We have implemented an integrative wellness team that reviews all our patient care plans,” he explains. “This year, as part of our integrative functional medicine and physical medicine approach to care, we are now implementing nutrigenomics into our patients’ clinical nutrition programs,” he further adds. Nutrigenomics is the scientific study of the interaction of nutrition and genes. And Dr. Alex this recent advent to modern nutrition can adjust treatment protocols with specific nutritional care plans specific to every patient. “We are at a remarkable time in human history as advances in genetics, physical rehabilitation, and recovery programs give us a new way to understand our bodies. It gives us great joy in empowering our patients here on our very own El Paso community with these new forms of clinical collaborative sciences and treatment programs,” he notes.

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