Understanding The Neuroendocrine System and How To Keep It Energetic and Healthy

Domonique D. Hargrove B.A., M.S., NCEP Certified Trainer, Founder& President of "Slight Edge Performance Program" LLC
Domonique D. Hargrove B.A., M.S., NCEP Certified Trainer, Founder& President of “Slight Edge Performance Program” LLC

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What Is The Neuroendocrine System?

The neuroendocrine system is made up of special cells called neuroendocrine cells. They are spread throughout the body. Neuroendocrine cells are like nerve cells (neurons), but they also make hormones like cells of the endocrine system (endocrine cells). They receive messages (signals) from the nervous system and respond by making and releasing hormones. These hormones control many body functions.

Neuroendocrine systems can be defined as the sets of neurons, glands and non-endocrine tissues, and the neurochemicals, hormones, and humoral signals they produce and receive, that function in an integrated manner to collectively regulate a physiological or behavioral state.

What Are Neuroendocrine Cells

Neuroendocrine cells are like nerve cells (neurons), but they also make hormones like cells of the endocrine system (endocrine cells). They receive messages (signals) from the nervous system and respond by making and releasing hormones.

Neuroendocrine cells are spread throughout the human body, but are mainly found in the small intestine, pancreas, and lung bronchioles.

Where Neuroendocrine Cells Are Located

Neuroendocrine cells are found in almost every organ of the body. They are mainly found scattered in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (including the small intestine, rectum, stomach, colon, esophagus and appendix), the gallbladder, the pancreas (islet cells) and the thyroid (C cells). Neuroendocrine cells are also commonly found in the lungs or airways into the lungs (bronchi), as well as the respiratory tract of the head and neck. The neuroendocrine cells scattered throughout these organs are often referred to as the diffuse neuroendocrine system.

The pituitary gland, the parathyroid glands and the inner layer of the adrenal gland (adrenal medulla) are almost all made up of neuroendocrine cells.

Other sites of neuroendocrine cells include the thymus, kidneys, liver, prostate, skin, cervix, ovaries and testicles.

The neuroendocrine system comprises the hypothalamus, the pituitary, and glands involved in release of their respective hormones, that is, the adrenal glands and the gonads. The HPA axis exerts its effects primarily through release of glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids by the cortex of the adrenal glands.

What Is Neuroendocrinology?

Neuroendocrinology is the branch of biology (specifically of physiology) which studies the interaction between the nervous system and the endocrine system, that is how the brain regulates the hormonal activity in the body.

Neuroendocrinology is the discipline that studies hormone production by neurons, the sensitivity of neurons for hormones, as well as the dynamic, bidirectional interactions between neurons and endocrine glands.

Neuroendocrinology investigates interactions between the nervous and endocrine systems. The nervous system is composed of the brain, spinal cord, ganglia, and nerves, and neural cells communicate directly with one another (and with cells of sensory and effector tissues) by means of neurotransmitters. The endocrine system is composed of ductless glands that release hormones that act systemically. Neuroendocrinology therefore investigates reciprocal influences of local and widespread chemical signaling systems in animals. Research in neuroendocrinology historically examined several distinct but related processes.

Secretion of neuropeptide releasing factors from the hypothalamus (neurosecretion) was found to control the pituitary gland, which, in turn, governs many endocrine functions. The pattern of neuropeptide secretion is pulsatile and characterized by circadian and ultradian variations. The nervous system directly regulates the pineal gland and adrenal medulla. Thyroid hormones, steroids, and peptide hormones have important feedback effects regulating the neural control of their release. Hormones clearly regulate development of the nervous system.

A variety of adult brain systems are influenced by hormones, and behavioral neuroendocrinology has become a fertile area. Most recently, several classes of hormones, such as neurosteroids, have been found to be synthesized and have neurotransmitter-like actions within the brain, thus blurring the distinction between endocrine and neuronal signaling systems.

The field of neuroendocrinology has expanded from its original focus on the control of pituitary hormone secretion by the hypothalamus to encompass multiple reciprocal interactions between the central nervous system (CNS) and endocrine systems in the control of homeostasis and physiologic responses to environmental stimuli.

Neuroendocrinology is the study of how the nervous system controls hormonal secretion and how, in turn, hormones affect the nervous system. The brain-pituitary neuroendocrine system processes information from and enables endocrine responses to external factors, such as stress, day length, and changes in ambient temperature. Attention here is focused on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and related neuroendocrine systems involved in the neuroendocrine response to stress. Brain control of the synthesis and secretion of pituitary adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) is mediated by neurohormones released from the hypothalamus at the base of the brain and transported by the hypophysial portal vessels to the anterior pituitary gland. The function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ACTH module is regulated by negative feedback by glucocorticoids secreted by the adrenal glands in response to ACTH stimulation.

Neuroendocrine systems and the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) precursor proopiomelanocortin, in particular, provided some of the first models for our understanding of gene transcription, translation and posttranslational processing in vertebrates. These and other principles related to neurotransmitter/neurohormone synthesis, release, mode of action, and control are being studied by researchers.

Neuroendocrinology is the study of the reciprocal actions between the nervous and the endocrine system. These interactions include the biological systems of the cells involved and the physiological processes of the human body. The neuroendocrine system is the mechanism where the hypothalamus maintains homeostasis, regulating reproduction, metabolism, energy utilization and hypertension.

What Foods Are Good For The Endocrine System?

The endocrine system also requires numerous vitamins and minerals to function properly, so a healthy endocrine diet should be rich in fruits and vegetables. Leafy greens, such as spinach, broccoli, turnip greens, kale, and asparagus, are especially good for endocrine health.

Polyphenols are reducing agents, and together with other dietary reducing agents, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids, referred to as antioxidants, protect the body’s tissues against oxidative stress and associated pathologies such as cancers, coronary heart disease and inflammation.

Focus on eating fruits, vegetables, and quality protein. Along with healthy fats, amino acids found in protein are major building blocks for hormones. Eggs, fish, and lean meats are great sources of protein, as are quinoa, oats, beans, lentils, nuts, and Brussels sprouts.

You can support your endocrine system with what you eat. Avoid or eliminate processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats in your diet. Simple sugars interfere with the body’s insulin levels and can damage the pancreas. Processed foods often contain chemicals that act similarly to the body’s hormones, confusing the body and creating resistance to real hormones. Fats are the building blocks for many hormones and are a necessary part of your diet, but unhealthy fats can increase your risk of heart disease and cause impaired endocrine function. Instead, stick to healthy fats such as coconut oil, avocado, chia seeds, nuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

The endocrine system also requires numerous vitamins and minerals to function properly, so a healthy endocrine diet should be rich in fruits and vegetables. Leafy greens, such as spinach, broccoli, turnip greens, kale, and asparagus, are especially good for endocrine health.

Increasing evidence suggests that food ingested polyphenols can have beneficial effects in neuronal protection acting against oxidative stress and inflammatory injury. Moreover, polyphenols have been reported to promote cognitive functions. Biotransformation of polyphenols is needed to obtain metabolites active in the brain and it occurs through their processing by gut microbiota. Polyphenols metabolites could directly act as neurotransmitters crossing the blood-brain barrier or indirectly by modulating the cerebrovascular system. The microbiota-gut-brain axis is considered a neuroendocrine system that acts bidirectionally and plays an important role in stress responses.

The metabolites produced by microbiota metabolism can modulate gut bacterial composition and brain biochemistry acting as neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. Gut microbiota composition can be influenced by dietary ingestion of natural bioactive molecules such as probiotics, prebiotics and polyphenol. Microbiota composition can be altered by dietary changes and gastrointestinal dysfunctions are observed in neurodegenerative diseases.

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References: https://www.sciencedirect.com, https://www.omicsonline.org/journal-neuroendocrinology-research.php, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/neuroendocrinology, https://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/neuroendocrine/neuroendocrine-tumours/the-neuroendocrine-system/?region=on, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov,

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