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BIO 140 Human Biology I - Questions and Solutions

An Overview of the Endocrine System - Solutions

Review Questions

1. Endocrine glands ________.

  1. secrete hormones that travel through a duct to the target organs
  2. release neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft
  3. secrete chemical messengers that travel in the bloodstream
  4. include sebaceous glands and sweat glands

2. Chemical signaling that affects neighboring cells is called ________.

  1. autocrine
  2. paracrine
  3. endocrine
  4. neuron


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Critical Thinking Questions

1. Describe several main differences in the communication methods used by the endocrine system and the nervous system.

Solution: The endocrine system uses chemical signals called hormones to convey information from one part of the body to a distant part of the body. Hormones are released from the endocrine cell into the extracellular environment, but then travel in the bloodstream to target tissues. This communication and response can take seconds to days. In contrast, neurons transmit electrical signals along their axons. At the axon terminal, the electrical signal prompts the release of a chemical signal called a neurotransmitter that carries the message across the synaptic cleft to elicit a response in the neighboring cell. This method of communication is nearly instantaneous, of very brief duration, and is highly specific.

2. Compare and contrast endocrine and exocrine glands.

Solution: Endocrine glands are ductless. They release their secretion into the surrounding fluid, from which it enters the bloodstream or lymph to travel to distant cells. Moreover, the secretions of endocrine glands are hormones. Exocrine glands release their secretions through a duct that delivers the secretion to the target location. Moreover, the secretions of exocrine glands are not hormones, but compounds that have an immediate physiologic function. For example, pancreatic juice contains enzymes that help digest food.

3. True or false: Neurotransmitters are a special class of paracrines. Explain your answer.

Solution: True. Neurotransmitters can be classified as paracrines because, upon their release from a neuron’s axon terminals, they travel across a microscopically small cleft to exert their effect on a nearby neuron or muscle cell.


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OpenStax, An Overview of the Endocrine System. OpenStax CNX. Jun 18, 2013 http://cnx.org/contents/e250c2d0-97c5-4ec2-88fd-20207d1acdde@3. © Jun 18, 2013 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0 license.