Endocrine - Other Tissues

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Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT)

This current page recognises that there are a growing number of other tissues that have been shown to have a range of associated endocrine functions.

Endocrine Links: Introduction | BGD Lecture | Science Lecture | Lecture Movie | Pineal | Hypothalamus‎ | Pituitary | Thyroid | Parathyroid | Thymus‎ | Pancreas‎ | Adrenal‎ | Gonad‎ | Placenta‎ | Other Tissues | Stage 22 | Abnormalities | Hormones | Category:Endocrine
Historic Embryology - Endocrine  
1903 Islets of Langerhans | 1904 interstitial Cells | 1908 Pancreas Different Species | 1912 Suprarenal Bodies | 1914 Suprarenal Organs | 1915 Pharynx | 1916 Thyroid | 1918 Rabbit Hypophysis | 1920 Adrenal | 1935 Mammalian Hypophysis | 1926 Human Hypophysis | 1937 Pineal | 1938 Parathyroid | 1940 Adrenal | 1941 Thyroid | 1950 Thyroid Parathyroid Thymus | 1957 Adrenal

Some Recent Findings

  • Review - An updated view of leptin on implantation and pregnancy[1] "The hormone leptin, which is thought to be primarily produced by adipose tissue, is a polypeptide that was initially characterized by its ability to regulate food intake and energy metabolism. Leptin appears to signal the status of body energy stores to the brain, resulting in the regulation of food intake and whole-body energy expenditure. Subsequently, it was recognized as a cytokine with a wide range of peripheral actions and is involved in the regulation of a number of physiological systems including reproduction. In the fed state, leptin circulates in the plasma in proportion to body adiposity in all species studied to date. However other factors such as sex, age, body mass index (BMI), sex steroids and pregnancy may also affect leptin levels in plasma. In pregnant mice and humans, the placenta is also a major site of leptin expression. Leptin circulates in biological fluids both as free protein and in a form that is bound to the soluble isoform of its receptor or other binding proteins such as one of the immunoglobulin superfamily members Siglec-6 (OB-BP1)."
More recent papers
Mark Hill.jpg
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This table shows an automated computer PubMed search using the listed sub-heading term.

  • Therefore the list of references do not reflect any editorial selection of material based on content or relevance.
  • References appear in this list based upon the date of the actual page viewing.

References listed on the rest of the content page and the associated discussion page (listed under the publication year sub-headings) do include some editorial selection based upon both relevance and availability.

Links: References | Discussion Page | Pubmed Most Recent | Journal Searches

Search term: Endocrine Embryology

Hyeji Jeon, Aeli Ryu, Hui-Gyeong Seo, Si-Hyong Jang Ovarian torsion of mixed epithelial tumor misdiagnosed as a malignancy in postmenopausal woman: A case report. Medicine (Baltimore): 2017, 96(40);e8207 PubMed 28984773

Shunsuke Kuroki, Naoki Okashita, Shoko Baba, Ryo Maeda, Shingo Miyawaki, Masashi Yano, Miyoko Yamaguchi, Satsuki Kitano, Hitoshi Miyachi, Akihiro Itoh, Minoru Yoshida, Makoto Tachibana Rescuing the aberrant sex development of H3K9 demethylase Jmjd1a-deficient mice by modulating H3K9 methylation balance. PLoS Genet.: 2017, 13(9);e1007034 PubMed 28949961

Andrea R Hindman, Xiaokui Molly Mo, Hannah L Helber, Claire E Kovalchin, Nanditha Ravichandran, Alina R Murphy, Abigail M Fagan, Pamela M St John, Craig J Burd Varying susceptibility of the female mammary gland to in utero windows of BPA exposure. Endocrinology: 2017; PubMed 28938483

Allison M Osmundsen, Jessica L Keisler, M Mark Taketo, Shannon W Davis Canonical WNT signaling regulates the pituitary organizer and pituitary gland formation. Endocrinology: 2017; PubMed 28938441

Heng Chen, Guoqiang Xiao, Xueliang Chai, Xingguan Lin, Jun Fang, Shuangshuang Teng Transcriptome analysis of sex-related genes in the blood clam Tegillarca granosa. PLoS ONE: 2017, 12(9);e0184584 PubMed 28934256

Endocrine Heart

  • Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) - Increase Filtration rate / decrease Na+ reabsorption
  • Endothelins - ET-1, ET-2, ET-3, Vasoconstriction / Increase NO
  • Nitric oxide (NO) - Vasodilatation

Links: Cardiovascular System Development | Search PubMed Endocrine Heart

Endocrine Lung

Pulmonary Neuroendocrine Cells

Neonatal Human Fetal Rabbit
Neonatal human pulmonary neuroendocrine cell EM01.jpg Fetal rabbit neuroepithelial body 01.jpg
Pulmonary neuroendocrine cell (EM)[2] Neuroepithelial body[2]
  • Pulmonary Neuroendocrine Cells (PNECs) develop in late embryonic to early fetal period.[3][4]
  • first cell type to differentiate in the airway epithelium.
    • differentiation regulated by proneural genes - mammalian homolog of the achaete-scute complex (Mash-1) and hairy and enhancer of split1 (Hes-1).[5]
  • later in mid-fetal period clusters of these cells form neuroepithelial bodies (NEBs).
  • located in the fetal lung at bronchiole branching points.
  • may stimulate mitosis to increase branching.
  • secrete 2 peptides - gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) and calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP)
    • Gastrin-releasing polypeptide (GRP) is a 27-amino acid neuropeptide, that binds to the GRP receptor a G protein-coupled receptor. GRP is the mammalian equivalent of the amphibian bombesin. Neonatal human lung initial high levels in PNECs then decreases.
    • Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) is a 37-amino acid neuropeptide, that binds to the CGRP receptor and induces increased intracellular cAMP levels.
  • in the adult these cells can also be a source for tumourogenesis.
Links: Respiratory System Development | OMIM - GRP | OMIM - CGRP

Endocrine Kidney

Kidney Endocrine
Hormone Function Comment
Renin increase angiotensin-aldosterone system paracrine, renin is released by juxtaglomerular cells
Prostaglandins decrease sodium (Na+) reabsorption paracrine, (PGE2) vasodilator regulate renal vascular reactivity
Erythropoietin increase Erythrocyte production endocrine, promotes red blood cell formation in bone marrow
1,25 (OH)2 vitamin D Calcium homeostasis endocrine, biologically active form of vitamin D
Prekallikreins increase Kinin production paracrine, act locally to induce vasodilation and contraction of smooth muscle

Nephron physiology.jpg

Links: Renal System Development | Endocrinology - Chapter 8 Cardiovascular and renal endocrinology | Search PubMed Endocrine Kidney

Gastrointestinal Tract Endocrine

The gastrointestinal tract has its own complex entero-endocrine system (enterohormones) that regulates many regional tract functions.

  • Gastrin - Secreted from stomach (G cells), role in control of gastric acid secretion
  • Cholecystokinin - small intestine hormone, stimulates secretion of pancreatic enzymes and bile
  • Secretin - small intestine hormone (epithelial cells), stimulates secretion of bicarbonate-rich fluids from pancreas and liver

Cells within the stomach express a range of peptide hormones known to regulate a range of gastric functions including secretion of digestive enzymes, mucous and the movement of the luminal contents.

The list below shows the earliest detectible presence of specific hormone-containing cells in regions of the developing human stomach.[6]

  • 8 weeks - Gastrin containing cells in stomach antrum. Somatostatin cells in both the antrum and the fundus.
  • 10 weeks - Glucagon containing cells in stomach fundus.
  • 11 weeks - Serotonin containing cells in both the antrum and the fundus.


Developing endocrine pancreas gherkin producing cells

Adult ghrelin is produced in the stomach and acts as a long-term regulator of energy metabolism and as a short-term regulation of feeding.

Prenatally may also have additional developmental and organisational effects.[8]

The developing pancreas also has a population of ghrelin-secreting cells that are not present in the adult, but are also seen expressed in some tumours.

Links: Gastrointestinal Tract Development | Endocrine Pancreas | Search PubMed Endocrine Gastrointestinal Tract

Adipose Tissue

Adiponectin Receptor Signaling[8]

The hormones leptin, adiponectin, and resistin are produced by adipose tissue. Of these hormones, we know the most about leptin, but it too is only a recent discovery (1994) and research has yet to uncover all this molecules hormonal roles. The role of the other listed "adipose hormones" is still even more speculative.[9]

  • Leptin - polypeptide hormone produced in adipose and many other tissues with also many different roles
  • Adiponectin - regulation of energy homeostasis and glucose and lipid metabolism, as well as acting as an anti-inflammatory on the cellular vascular wall
  • Resistin - (for resistance to insulin, RETN) a 108 amino acid polypeptide and the related resistin-like protein-beta (Resistin-like molecule-beta, RELMbeta) stimulate endogenous glucose production

The two forms of adipose are white and brown adipose tissue. Brown adipose is found in newborns (2 - 5 % of the body weight) and can be used to dissipate stored energy as heat (thermogenesis), while adults have mainly white adipose.


Leptin was discovered in 1994, named from the Greek word "leptos", meaning thin. This is a polypeptide hormone produced in adipose and many other tissues with also many different roles related to the inhibition of food intake and stimulation of energy expenditure.

In embryology, its levels are associated with fertility and reproductive maturity in many species. There are several additional hormonal roles in the adult including satiety, adiposity, and metabolism.

Leptin has also been shown to be produced by other tissues including the placenta.[10][1]

Leptin effects on female reproduction
Target Tissue Biological Process Biological Function Mechanism
Hypothalamus GnRH secretion Regulation of LH and FSH secretion Indirectly via kisspeptin
Pituitary Estrous cycles and ovulation FSH and LH release; LH plasticity and cyclicity
Ovary Ovarian steroidogenesis Estrogen production P450 aromatase; P450-17α hydroxylase
Ovary Folliculogenesis Low leptin promotes follicle development Promotes the transition of primordial to primary follicles
Embryo Embryogenesis Biophysical effect on embryo growth and quality Stimulates proliferation
Uterus Angiogenesis Stimulates metalloproteinase activity Inhibits terminal differentiation of committed giant cells
Table modified from:

M Herrid, S K A Palanisamy, U A Ciller, R Fan, P Moens, N A Smart, J R McFarlane An updated view of leptin on implantation and pregnancy: a review. Physiol Res: 2014, 63(5);543-57 PubMed 24908087

Links: Placenta Development


Adiponectin (ADIPOQ) a 244 amino acid secretory protein hormone involved in regulation of energy homeostasis and glucose and lipid metabolism, as well as acting as an anti-inflammatory on the vascular wall.

Has a postulated role in suppressing the development of atherosclerosis and liver fibrosis and also as an anti-inflammatory hormone.

Links: OMIM - Adiponectin | OMIM - Adiponectin Receptor 1 | OMIM - Adiponectin Receptor 2 |


Resistin (for resistance to insulin, RETN) a 108 amino acid polypeptide and the related resistin-like protein-beta (Resistin-like molecule-beta, RELMbeta) stimulate endogenous glucose production. Therefore increased adiposity can cause an insulin resistance, subsequently has a postulated role in fat and gut modulation of hepatic insulin action.

Results from a recent study on vitamin C on resistin levels.

Bo S, Ciccone G, Durazzo M, Gambino R, Massarenti P, Baldi I, Lezo A, Tiozzo E, Pauletto D, Cassader M, Pagano G. Efficacy of antioxidant treatment in reducing resistin serum levels: a randomized study. PLoS Clin Trials. 2007 May 4;2(5):e17.

Antioxidant treatment alteration (reduction) of resistin serum levels.

Links: OMIM - Resistin | OMIM - Resistin-like protein-beta

Links: Adipose Tissue Development | Search PubMed Endocrine Adipose Tissue | Search Leptin

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus

A recent study has compared the levels of adipose hormones in normal and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) complicated pregnancies.[11]

In fetal tissue (placenta, amnion and choriodecidua) for the normal pregnancy they found higher levels of the adipose hormones than in GDM.

In maternal tissues (adipose tissue and skeletal muscle) for the GDM pregnancy women have higher leptin than in normal women.

Links: Maternal Diabetes


  1. 1.0 1.1 M Herrid, S K A Palanisamy, U A Ciller, R Fan, P Moens, N A Smart, J R McFarlane An updated view of leptin on implantation and pregnancy: a review. Physiol Res: 2014, 63(5);543-57 PubMed 24908087
  2. 2.0 2.1 R P DiAugustine, K S Sonstegard Neuroendocrinelike (small granule) epithelial cells of the lung. Environ. Health Perspect.: 1984, 55;271-95 PubMed 6376101
  3. E Cutz Neuroendocrine cells of the lung. An overview of morphologic characteristics and development. Exp. Lung Res.: 1982, 3(3-4);185-208 PubMed 6188605
  4. E Cutz, J E Gillan, A C Bryan Neuroendocrine cells in the developing human lung: morphologic and functional considerations. Pediatr. Pulmonol.: 1985, 1(3 Suppl);S21-9 PubMed 3906540
  5. Suzanne McGovern, Jie Pan, Guillermo Oliver, Ernest Cutz, Herman Yeger The role of hypoxia and neurogenic genes (Mash-1 and Prox-1) in the developmental programming and maturation of pulmonary neuroendocrine cells in fetal mouse lung. Lab. Invest.: 2010, 90(2);180-95 PubMed 20027181
  6. B A Stein, A M Buchan, J Morris, J M Polak The ontogeny of regulatory peptide-containing cells in the human fetal stomach: an immunocytochemical study. J. Histochem. Cytochem.: 1983, 31(9);1117-25 PubMed 6136542
  7. Yaron Suissa, Judith Magenheim, Miri Stolovich-Rain, Ayat Hija, Patrick Collombat, Ahmed Mansouri, Lori Sussel, Beatriz Sosa-Pineda, Kyle McCracken, James M Wells, R Scott Heller, Yuval Dor, Benjamin Glaser Gastrin: a distinct fate of neurogenin3 positive progenitor cells in the embryonic pancreas. PLoS ONE: 2013, 8(8);e70397 PubMed 23940571 | PLoS One.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Maxime Reverchon, Christelle Ramé, Michael Bertoldo, Joëlle Dupont Adipokines and the female reproductive tract. Int J Endocrinol: 2014, 2014;232454 PubMed 24695544 | PMC3948585 | Int J Endocrinol.
  9. Ursula Meier, Axel M Gressner Endocrine regulation of energy metabolism: review of pathobiochemical and clinical chemical aspects of leptin, ghrelin, adiponectin, and resistin. Clin. Chem.: 2004, 50(9);1511-25 PubMed 15265818
  10. H Masuzaki, Y Ogawa, N Sagawa, K Hosoda, T Matsumoto, H Mise, H Nishimura, Y Yoshimasa, I Tanaka, T Mori, K Nakao Nonadipose tissue production of leptin: leptin as a novel placenta-derived hormone in humans. Nat. Med.: 1997, 3(9);1029-33 PubMed 9288733
  11. Martha Lappas, Kirin Yee, Michael Permezel, Gregory E Rice Release and regulation of leptin, resistin and adiponectin from human placenta, fetal membranes, and maternal adipose tissue and skeletal muscle from normal and gestational diabetes mellitus-complicated pregnancies. J. Endocrinol.: 2005, 186(3);457-65 PubMed 16135665

Online Textbooks


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  • endocrine adipose - All (75) Review (40) Free Full Text (12)
  • endocrine heart - All (140) Review (47) Free Full Text (22)
  • endocrine kidney - All (128) Review (19) Free Full Text (9)
  • endocrine gastrointestinal tract - All (115) Review (32) Free Full Text (13)

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Adult Histology


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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. 2017 Embryology Endocrine - Other Tissues. Retrieved October 24, 2017, from https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Endocrine_-_Other_Tissues

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© Dr Mark Hill 2017, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G