What is the neuroendocrine system?

The neuroendocrine system is responsible for producing and secreting hormones, which are chemical substances produced in the body, whose function is regulate the activity of cells and organs. What else should we know about him?

This system is made up of neurons and glands, which They are responsible for synthesizing the different hormones They control the growth of the body, metabolism, development and sexual function.

The glands of the neuroendocrine system they secrete these substances to the blood in the necessary situations. It is through this fluid that they reach different cells and trigger their functions.

Functions of hormones of the neuroendocrine system

Hormones are the chemical messengers synthesized by the body. Thus, transfer information from one set of cells to another to coordinate the functions of different parts of the body. In addition to controlling many physiological functions, they are also involved in behavior.

As the publication highlights «Physiology, Endocrine Hormones», the neuroendocrine system it has numerous hormone producing glands. However, the main ones are:

  • Hypothalamus
  • Hypophysis.
  • Thyroid.
  • Reproductive organs.
  • Others: pancreas, pituitary gland.

On the other hand, The glands can be of two types: exocrine and endocrine. The first segregate their products through ducts. An example of exocrine glands can be digestive. As for the second, they secrete the hormones directly to the blood and get to act on the target organs or tissues.

The neuroendocrine system has numerous hormone-producing glands, among them, the pituitary gland.

Neuroendocrine system: the hypothalamus

The hypothalamus is located under the thalamus, which is just above the brain stem. Its main function is to maintain homeostasis, that is, the stability of the internal environment of the organism.

The hypothalamus links the nervous system with the neuroendocrine system through the pituitary gland. Its function is to secrete releasing hormones – which cause other glands to secrete other hormones – and inhibit hormones that stimulate or inhibit the production of hormones in the adenohypophysis.

The neurosecretory cells of the hypothalamus produce the antidiuretic hormone and oxytocin. These hormones are transported to the pituitary gland, which is where they are stored for later release.

Read also: How to regulate hormones through exercise

Neuroendocrine system: the pituitary gland

The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain. It is attached to the hypothalamus thanks to the middle eminence. It is formed by two very different parts and that work independently:

  • Posterior pituitary or neurohypophysis: It is considered an expansion of the hypothalamus whose main function is to store and release the hormones that come from it, which are oxytocin and vasopressin or antidiuretic hormone (ADH).
  • Anterior pituitary or adenohypophysis: This part of the pituitary has no nerve connection. It acts as a renal gland and secretes hormones that go to endocrine glands or tissues.


The main functions of oxytocin are related to reproduction. Mainly, stimulates the secretion of milk by the breasts during breastfeeding and promotes uterine contractions at the time of fertilization and childbirth.

Antidiuretic hormone or ADH

This hormone causes the reabsorption of water in the kidneys. Thus, urine production decreases. In addition, it contributes to homeostasis, since it regulates blood volume, electrolyte balance and blood pressure.

Neuroendocrine system: thyroid

When the TSH hormone from the anterior pituitary reaches the thyroid gland, the thyroid hormone is produced. This has the main role of regulating metabolic processes and especially the use of carbohydrates. In addition, it also influences growth and development, both body and nervous system.

When there is a deficit of these hormones in the neuroendocrine system, It is said that the person suffers from hypothyroidism. In the opposite case, the disease is called hyperthyroidism.

A deficit of thyroid hormones in the neuroendocrine system leads to the appearance of hypothyroidism.

Reproductive organs: sex hormones

The sex hormones are three: androgens, estrogens and progestogens. As for the first, Its main functions are:

  • Promote the development, growth and maintenance of male reproductive organs.
  • Promote the development of male secondary characters.
  • Stimulate protein metabolism.

You may want to read: 6 most important hormones that influence the ovulation cycle

Estrogens, being female sex hormones, They have androgen-like effects. However, in women:

Finally, the progestogens. These hormones prepare the walls of the uterus for implantation of the fertilized egg. Therefore, it is the protective hormone of childbirth. Also, prepare the breasts for milk secretion.

In summary, The neuroendocrine system participates in almost all processes that occur constantly inside the human body. Although many are unaware of their functions, their well-being is essential for the proper functioning of the organism.