Hypothalamus as an endocrine organ

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The endocrine hypothalamus constitutes those cells which project to the median eminence and secrete neurohormones into the hypophysial portal blood to act on cells of the anterior pituitary gland. The entire endocrine system is controlled by these peptides. In turn, the hypothalamic neuroendocrine cells are regulated by feedback signals from the endocrine glands and other circulating factors. The neuroendocrine cells are found in specific regions of the hypothalamus and are regulated by afferents from higher brain centers. Integrated function is clearly complex and the networks between and amongst the neuroendocrine cells allows fine control to achieve homeostasis. The entry of hormones and other factors into the brain, either via the cerebrospinal fluid or through fenestrated capillaries (in the basal hypothalamus) is important because it influences the extent to which feedback regulation may be imposed. Recent evidence of the passage of factors from the pars tuberalis and the median eminence casts a new layer in our understanding of neuroendocrine regulation. The function of neuroendocrine cells and the means by which pulsatile secretion is achieved is best understood for the close relationship between gonadotropin releasing hormone and luteinizing hormone, which is reviewed in detail. The secretion of other neurohormones is less rigid, so the relationship between hypothalamic secretion and the relevant pituitary hormones is more complex.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217 - 253
Number of pages37
JournalComprehensive Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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