How does the endocrine system work with the digestive system?

The gastrointestinal endocrine system

Gastrointestinal endocrinology is the study of the hormonal regulation of digestion. A number of characterized polypeptide hormones have been localized in specific gastroenteropancreatic endocrine cells. The fact that some of these hormones are also found in nerve and brain cells has given rise to the concept of a gut-brain axis. The functional capacities of these endocrine cells are determined by their anatomic location; the luminal exposure of gastroenteric endocrine cells represents an additional avenue for stimulation and release that is not open to pancreatic endocrine cells. Gastroenteropancreatic hormones regulate carbohydrate metabolism, gastric acid secretion, pancreatic exocrine and gallbladder function, gastrointestinal motility and blood flow. These important regulatory hormones may in turn be controlled by a series of gastroduodenal releasing hormones.

Diabetes mellitus is the most important metabolic disorder related to a gastroenteropancreatic hormone imbalance. Most tumours producing these hormones are of pancreatic origin and produce a number of hormones; insulinomas and gastrinomas are detected readily because of the serious metabolic distrubances they cause. Other instances of altered circulating concentrations of these hormones result from rather than cause the disease.

The challenge of future study is to determine if postprandial changes in the plasma concentrations of these hormones are sufficient or necessary, or both, for the control of digestion.

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Selected References

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