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The Endocrine System

  • Roger D. G. MalcomsonEmail author
  • Anita Nagy

Abstract

In the developing fetus, the endocrine system progressively establishes feedback and regulatory mechanisms similar to those of the adult. However, the fetal system also has to accommodate additional endocrine tissues: the placenta, the steroidogenic zone (fetal zone, FZ) of the adrenal cortex, as well as a contribution from the central nervous system, which in the fetus is capable both of the production of certain tropic hormones and of being a target organ for certain steroid hormones produced by the gonads, adrenal gland, and placenta.

The cells of the target organs of the maturing fetal endocrine system are rapidly proliferating and differentiating under influences of tissue growth factors (paracrine hormones). Therefore, any fetal endocrine disorder can have particularly far-reaching effects. For example, fetal hyperadrenalism can cause gonadal intersex and may affect sexual preferences in adult life.

This chapter briefly outlines the development and function of the fetal endocrine system and provides an account of those abnormalities of the endocrine system that present in the neonatal period. Certain clinical conditions (e.g., neonatal hypocalcemia) that may mimic endocrine disease are also briefly discussed.

Keywords

Hypothalamic pituitary axis Hormone Steroidogenesis Thyroid Parathyroid Adrenal Endocrine pancreas Infant of diabetic mother Congenital adrenal hyperplasia Congenital hyperinsulinism Goiter Congenital hypothyroidism Hypocalcemia Congenital hypoparathyroidism Developmental abnormality 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistopathologyUniversity Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester Royal InfirmaryLeicesterUK
  2. 2.Department of HistopathologyCambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Addenbrooke’s HospitalCambridgeUK

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