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Endocrine Function and Related Neoplasms


The endocrine system is a complex mode of communication between the body’s tissues, involving complex feedback loops, mediated by secreted hormones, between glands and organs around the body. The information conveyed by these secreted hormones is critical for good health and well-being, as these feedback systems control normal development, growth, reproduction, metabolism, and fluid balance. When one or more aspects of the endocrine system are dysfunctional, the physiological impact can be profound. Several researchers within the Endocrine Division have focused their efforts on understand the normal function of key tissues within the endocrine system and the problems that are associated when associated neoplasms develop.

Thyroid Function/Neoplasms

The thyroid is an endocrine gland located in the lower neck. Among the hormones produced by the thyroid gland are the iodine-containing hormones, tetraiodothyronine (thyroxine, T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones regulate heart rate, blood pressure, metabolic rate, body temperature, and energy balance. The thyroid also secretes other hormones that work in conjunction with the parathyroid gland to control calcium balance. The thyroid is involved in a complex feedback loop with the hypothalamus and pituitary, which maintains normal thyroid levels and function. Abnormalities of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis are relatively common, and can result in reduced levels (hypothyroidism) or elevated levels (hyperthyroidism) of thyroid hormone. Less common disorders are caused by the formation of nodules or cancer in the thyroid gland. Several researchers within the Division study this important endocrine axis and diseases related to its dysfunction.

Researchers in Endocrinology currently conducting Thyroid Function/Neoplasms related research:

Haugen, Klopper, McDermott, Ridgway, Sarapura, Schweppe, Wood

Recent Publications Coming Soon!

Related Links

The Endocrine Society
American Thyroid Association
National Cancer Institute

Pituitary Function/Neoplasms

The pituitary is a dime-sized gland centrally located at the base of the brain behind the eyes. It produces a large number of hormones that control growth and the function of many other endocrine glands around the body. Given its broad function, it is a heterogeneous, complex organ. Close to 7% of all diagnosed brain tumors are located in the pituitary gland, and most are benign. However, some of these neoplasms produce one or more of the hormones normally secreted by the pituitary gland, causing a severe disruption in the endocrine system. Little is known about the underlying causes or risk factors for pituitary tumors, and less is known about prevention. Several researchers within the division have focused their efforts on understanding the complexity of this organ at the molecular level, the molecular mechanisms that lead to pituitary tumorigenesis, and improving the diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for the treatment of pituitary tumors.

Researchers in Endocrinology currently conducting Pituitary Function/Neoplasms related research:

Gutierrez-Hartmann, Haugen, Kerr, McDermott, Ridgway, Sarapura, Wierman, Wood

Recent Publications Coming Soon!

Related Links

The Endocrine Society
National Cancer Institute
American Cancer Society

Sex Steroid Function and Breast Cancer

Sex steroids (endogenous androgens, estrogens, and progesterone) are produced primarily by the gonads and adrenal gland, but other tissues around the body are able to interconvert the various forms of these hormones in smaller amounts. Sex steroids are primarily involved in the development of sexual characteristics and reproduction, but receptors for these hormones are located in many tissues all around the body. It is clear they have a significant impact on energy balance, growth, body fat distribution, and fuel utilization. Researchers within the division have interests in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis that controls the levels of these hormones and how this axis impacts tissue specific gene expression and whole body metabolism. In addition, a number of our researchers have a particular interest in how these hormones are involved in the development and progression of breast cancer.

Researchers in Endocrinology currently conducting sex steroid function and breast cancer related research:

Gutierrez-Hartmann, Harvell, Horwitz, Jacobsen, MacLean, McDermott, Perreault, Rothman, Sartorius, Schweppe, Wierman

Recent Publications Coming Soon!

Related Links

The Endocrine Society
National Cancer Institute
American Cancer Society

Bone Health and Disease

Calcium metabolism and bone health are affected by both the thyroid and parathyroid endocrine organs, as well as many tissues around the body that are involved with Vitamin D metabolism. Metabolic bone diseases are disorders of bone remodeling that result in fractures or deformity of bones. Osteoporosis is a particularly common disease that is responsible for approximately 1.5 million fractures in the United States each year. Several members and affiliates within our division have been pursuing a better understanding of the underlying causes of bone disease and how pharmacotherapy, lifestyle modification, and dietary interventions work for prevention and treatment.

Researchers in Endocrinology currently conducting bone health and disease related research:

McDermott, Rothman, Wierman

Recent Publications Coming Soon!

Related Links

The Endocrine Society
National Osteoporosis Foundation
The NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases: National Resource Center