Endocrine System

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Blood pressure

This photo shows a nurse taking a woman’s blood pressure with a blood pressure cuff. The nurse is pumping the cuff with her right hand and holding a stethoscope on the patient’s arm with her left hand.
A proficiency in anatomy and physiology is fundamental to any career in the health professions. (credit: Bryan Mason/flickr)

Chapter objectives

After studying this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Distinguish between anatomy and physiology, and identify several branches of each
  • Describe the structure of the body, from simplest to most complex, in terms of the six levels of organization
  • Identify the functional characteristics of human life
  • Identify the four requirements for human survival
  • Define homeostasis and explain its importance to normal human functioning
  • Use appropriate anatomical terminology to identify key body structures, body regions, and directions in the body
  • Compare and contrast at least four medical imagining techniques in terms of their function and use in medicine

Though you may approach a course in anatomy and physiology strictly as a requirement for your field of study, the knowledge you gain in this course will serve you well in many aspects of your life. An understanding of anatomy and physiology is not only fundamental to any career in the health professions, but it can also benefit your own health. Familiarity with the human body can help you make healthful choices and prompt you to take appropriate action when signs of illness arise. Your knowledge in this field will help you understand news about nutrition, medications, medical devices, and procedures and help you understand genetic or infectious diseases. At some point, everyone will have a problem with some aspect of his or her body and your knowledge can help you to be a better parent, spouse, partner, friend, colleague, or caregiver.

This chapter begins with an overview of anatomy and physiology and a preview of the body regions and functions. It then covers the characteristics of life and how the body works to maintain stable conditions. It introduces a set of standard terms for body structures and for planes and positions in the body that will serve as a foundation for more comprehensive information covered later in the text. It ends with examples of medical imaging used to see inside the living body.

Sample Questions from the Endocrine System Quiz

Question: Estrogen and testosterone are examples of which type of hormone?






the mood-swingin' kind

Question: Hormones are derived from which two fundamental nutrients?


sadness and rage

amino acids and lipids

glucose and lipids

nucleotides and proteins

Question: A(n) _________ is a chemical that elicits a response in the same cell that secreted it.






Question: Hydrophilic, water-insoluble, hormones do not pass through the lipid bilayer and must attach to receptors on the cell surface. In this way, the hormone becomes the first messenger. What is the name of the second messenger used by most hormones?


phosphodiesterase (PDE)

diacylglycerol (DAG)

inositol triphosphate (IP3)

Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)

Question: Hormones are secreted into __________


the interstitial fluid

inner space

the extracellular fluid

the lymphatic system exclusively

Question: Steroids and thyroid hormones are lipid-soluble hormones that


can not pass the cell membrane and bind to the outside to stimulate action within the cell.

readily pass through the cell membrane and enter the nucleus as part of a receptor-hormone complex.

combine with cell membranes via endocytosis to be released within the cell as raw material.

enter a channel protein to change its physiology and restructure cells to begin mitosis of favorable cells.

make you into the Hulk and prone to asking people, "Do you even lift?"

Question: The endocrine system uses just one system of communication: _____________


transduced signaling

chemical signaling

organic signaling

transmitter signaling

Question: Hormones derived from amino acids include:


resperidol, saboxen and clairitin

cellulites and arythrocytes

amylases, ethanols and thymines

amines, peptides and proteins

Question: Local intercellular communication is the province of the __________, which is a chemical that induces a response in neighboring cells.






Question: The message a hormone sends is received by a ___________ ___________, a protein located either inside the cell or within the cell membrane.


combination factor

cell channel

hormone receptor

cellulose alkaline

Question: Compared to the nervous system, the endocrine system is generally ____________ and _____________ in the body functions it produces.


faster acting; less specific

slower acting; more specific

faster acting; more specific

slower acting; less specific

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