Which gland secretes a hormone that regulates the immune system?

Hormones in the immune system and their possible role. A critical review

Immune cells synthesize, store and secrete hormones, which are identical with the hormones of the endocrine glands. These are: the POMC hormones (ACTH, endorphin), the thyroid system hormones (TRH, TSH, T3), growth hormone (GH), prolactin, melatonin, histamine, serotonin, catecholamines, GnRH, LHRH, hCG, renin, VIP, ANG II. This means that the immune cells contain all of the hormones, which were searched at all and they also have receptors for these hormones. From this point of view the immune cells are similar to the unicells (Tetrahymena), so it can be supposed that these cells retained the properties characteristic at a low level of phylogeny while other cells during the evolution accumulated to form endocrine glands. In contrast to the glandular endocrine cells, immune cells are polyproducers and polyreceivers. As they are mobile cells, they are able to transport the stored hormone to different places (packed transport) or attracted by local factors, accumulate in the neighborhood of the target, synthesizing and secreting hormones locally. This is taking place, e.g. in the case of endorphin, where the accumulating immune cells calms pain caused by the inflammation. The targeted packed transport is more economical than the hormone-pouring to the blood circulation of glandular endocrines and the targeting also cares the other receptor-bearing cells timely not needed the effect. Mostly the immune-effects of immune-cell derived hormones were studied (except endorphin), however, it is not exactly cleared, while the system could have scarcely studied important roles in other cases. The evolutionary aspects and the known as well, as possible roles of immune-endocrine system and their hormones are listed and discussed.

Keywords: endocrine evolution; hormones; immune cells; immune evolution; immunoendocrinology; packed transport.

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