Neuroendocrine Cells

The peptidergic neuroendocrine cell bodies are located in the hypothalamus of the brain. They are neurons that release the endocrine peptide hormones oxytocin and vasopressin (also known as antidiuretic hormone) upon neural stimulation. These hormones are nine amino acid peptides; they enter the general circulation from the neurosecretory endings located in the posterior pituitary (neurohypophysis). Oxyto-cin initiates uterine contractions and the production of milk in nursing mothers. Vasopressin controls water resorption in the kidneys, and is a component of the feedback system that controls Na+ ion concentration in the blood (Northrop, 1999).

Neurosecretory cells in the anterior pituitary secrete a number of glycoprotein endocrine hormones. These cells are part of the adenohypophyseal system. Unlike the neurohypophyseal neurosecretory cells, the adenohypophyseal cells are stimulated to secrete not by nerve inputs but by local hormonal signals derived from neurosecretory cells in the anterior hypothalamus. These hormones are listed in Table 1.1-1.

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