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Tests

Table of Endocrine Glands

This table includes a listing of endocrine glands, the hormones they produce, and the diseases and conditions associated with their improper function.
ENDOCRINE GLAND LOCATION/ DESCRIPTION HORMONES GLAND PRODUCES GLAND/ HORMONE FUNCTION EXAMPLES OF DISORDERS ASSOCIATED WITH IMPROPER FUNCTION
Hypothalamus Lower middle of the brain Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH
Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH)
Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)
Prolactin Inhibitory Factor (PIF, dopamine)
Communicates with both nervous and endocrine systems; 
Stimulates GHRH, TRH, CRH, GnRH or inhibits PIF hormone production in the pituitary
Precocious puberty (early GnRH production);
Kallman syndrome (inadequate GnRH production);
Thyroid diseases
Oxytocin Uterine contraction during labour  
Arginine vasopressin (AVP), also called antidiuretic hormone (ADH) Water balance Diabetes insipidus (inadequate AVP production)
Pituitary Below hypothalamus, behind sinus cavity Prolactin Milk production Hypopituitarism
Empty Sella syndrome
Galactorrhoea (milk production not during pregnancy due to high prolactin)
Growth hormone (GH) Bone growth

Acromegaly or Gigantism (excess GH)
Growth Hormone
Deficiency (GHD)

ACTH

Stimulates cortisol Cushing's syndrome (excess ACTH)
TSH Stimulates thyroid hormone Hyperthyroidism
Hypothyroidism
LHFSH Regulation of testosterone and oestrogen, fertility Loss of menstrual period
Loss of sex drive
Infertility
Thyroid Butterfly-shaped; lies flat against windpipe in the throat T4 (thyroxine)
T3 (triiodothyronine)
Helps regulate the rate of metabolism Thyroid diseases (including hypo & hyperthyroidism)
Calcitonin Helps regulate bone status, blood calcium  
Parathyroid 4 tiny glands located behind, next to, or below the thyroid Parathyroid hormone (PTH) Regulates blood calcium Hyperparathyroidism
Hypoparathyroidism
MEN1
Adrenal 2 triangular organs, on top of each kidney Adrenaline
Noradrenaline
Blood pressure regulation, stress reaction Phaeochromocytoma (MEN2)
Aldosterone Salt & water balance Conn’s syndrome
Cortisol Stress reaction Cushing’s syndrome
Addison’s disease
DHEA-S Body hair development at puberty Cancer
Adrenal hyperplasia
Ovaries 
(females only)
2 located in the pelvis Oestrogen
Progesterone
Female sexual characteristics Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Testes 
(males only)
2 located in the groin Testosterone Male sexual characteristics Hypogonadism
Pancreas Large, gourd-shaped gland, located behind the stomach Insulin
Glucagon
Somatostatin
Glucose regulation Diabetes mellitus
MENI
Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
Pineal Lower side of the brain Melatonin Not well understood;
Helps control sleep patterns, affects reproduction
 

 

The goal with endocrine gland testing is to identify the hormone(s) that are being over- or under-produced, to determine which gland(s) are involved, and to determine the cause. This may involve measuring hormone levels and their metabolites in the blood and/or urine. It may also involve stimulation or suppression testing to evaluate hormone production and/or its “upstream” hormone stimulation (to find out if it is the gland itself that is dysfunctional or if it is due to dysfunction by the gland preceding it). If a tumour is suspected, then imaging scans may be used to help locate the tumour. If symptoms are suspected to be due to an inherited condition, then genetic testing may be recommended. Patients often see an endocrinologist (an endocrine gland specialist) to help them determine the appropriate testing and treatment. Related testing on this site includes:

Laboratory tests

Non-laboratory tests

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Ultrasound
  • Radioisotope scans

Last Review Date: February 13, 2015