The Endocrine System

Critical Thinking Questions

Hormone secretion is often regulated through a negative feedback mechanism, which means that once a hormone is secreted it will cause the hypothalamus and pituitary to shut down the production of signals necessary to secrete the hormone in the first place. Most oral contraceptives are made of small doses of estrogen and/or progesterone. Why would this be an effective means of contraception?

Hint:

The introduction of relatively low, yet constant, levels of gonadal hormones places the hypothalamus and pituitary under inhibition via negative feedback mechanisms. This prevents the alterations in both estrogen and progesterone concentrations that are necessary for successful ovulation and implantation.

Chemical messengers are used in both the nervous system and the endocrine system. What properties do these two systems share? What properties are different? Which one would be faster? Which one would result in long-lasting changes?

Hint:

Both systems involve chemical messengers that must interact with receptors in order to have an effect. The relative proximity of the release site and target tissue varies dramatically between the two systems. In neurotransmission, reuptake and enzymatic breakdown immediately clear the synapse. Metabolism of hormones must occur in the liver. Therefore, while neurotransmission is much more rapid in signaling information, hormonal signaling can persist for quite some time as the concentrations of the hormone in the bloodstream vary gradually over time.