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Neuroendocrine cells are a specialized group of nerve cells (neurons) that produce hormones. These hormones may be amines, neuropeptides, or specialized amino acids. They package the hormones in vesicles and send these packages via long processes (axons) to blood vessels. When stimulated (by hormones from the blood stream or other neurons) the neuroendocrine cells secrete the hormones into the blood stream. The hormones then travel to their target cells and may stimulate, inhibit or maintain function of these cells. The target cells may feed back information to these neurons that regulates further secretion.

Specialized groups of neuroendocrine cells can be found at the base of the third ventricle in the brain (in a region called the hypothalamus). This area controls most anterior pituitary cells and thereby regulates functions in the entire body, like responses to stress, cold, sleep, and the reproductive system. The neurons send processes to a region connecting to the pituitary stalk and the hormones (called releasing or inhibiting hormones) are released into the blood stream. They are carried by portal vessels to the pituitary cells where they may stimulate, inhibit, or maintain the function of a particular cell type. Many of the projects in the neuroendocrine group focus on the regulatory circuitry in this pathway.

Itis thought that the brains effect on the neuroendocrine system produces effects throughtout the body and provides the pathway for some of what are observed as psychosomatic symptoms. For example the neuroendocrine response has far reaching changes on the immune system which can lead to autoimmune reactions and greater vulnerability to infections as a response to stress.

See also



Key texts – Books

Van der Kar, L (1998) Methods in Neuroendocrinology.CRC Press. ISBN 0849333636 Van Praag, HM {ed}}Handbook of Biological Psychiatry: Brain Mechanisms and Abnormal Behavior - Genetics and Neuroendocrinology Part 3. Marcel Dekker Ltd. ISBN 0824769651

Additional material – Books

Freier, S (1989) Neuroendocrine-immune Network.CRC Press. ISBN 0849346258 by .

Key texts – Papers

Additional material - Papers

External links

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