endocrinologic /en'doh krin'l oj"ik, -kruyn'-, -kreen'-/, endocrinological, adj.endocrinologist, n.
/en'doh kreuh nol"euh jee, -kruy-/, n.
the branch of biology dealing with the endocrine glands and their secretions, esp. in relation to their processes or functions.
[1915-20; ENDOCRINE + -O- + -LOGY]

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Medical discipline dealing with regulation of body functions by hormones and other biochemicals and treatment of endocrine system imbalances.

In 1841 Friedrich Gustav Henle first recognized "ductless glands," which secrete products directly into the bloodstream. The field was essentially established in the early 20th century, when Ernest H. Starling, who introduced the term hormone, proposed that chemical and nervous regulation of physiological processes were linked. Endocrine therapy is based on replacing deficient hormones with purified extracts. Nuclear technology has led to new treatments; use of radioactive iodine for hyperthyroidism greatly reduced the need for thyroid gland surgery. The detection of minute amounts of hormone with radioimmunoassays (see radiology) permits early diagnosis and treatment of endocrine disorders.

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      medical discipline dealing with the role of hormones (hormone) and other biochemical mediators in regulating bodily functions and with the treatment (therapeutics) of imbalances of these hormones. Although some endocrine diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, have been known since antiquity, endocrinology itself is a fairly recent medical field, depending as it does on the recognition that body tissues and organs secrete chemical mediators directly into the bloodstream to produce distant effects.

      Friedrich Henle (Henle, Friedrich Gustav Jacob) in 1841 was the first to recognize “ductless glands,” glands that secrete their products into the bloodstream and not into specialized ducts. In 1855 Claude Bernard (Bernard, Claude) distinguished the products of these ductless glands from other glandular products by the term “internal secretions,” the first suggestion of what was to become the modern hormone concept.

      The first endocrine therapy was attempted in 1889 by Charles Brown-Séquard (Brown-Séquard, Charles-Édouard), who used extracts from animal testes to treat male aging; this prompted a vogue in “organotherapies” that soon faded but that led to adrenal and thyroid extracts that were the forerunners of modern cortisone and thyroid hormones. The first hormone to be purified was secretin, which is produced by the small intestine to trigger the release of pancreatic juices; it was discovered in 1902 by Ernest Starling (Starling, Ernest Henry) and William Bayliss (Bayliss, Sir William Maddock). Starling applied the term “hormone” to such chemicals in 1905, proposing a chemical regulation of physiological processes operating in conjunction with nervous regulation; this essentially was the beginning of the field of endocrinology.

      The early years of the 20th century saw the purification of a number of other hormones, often leading to new therapies for patients affected by hormonal disorders. In 1914 Edward Kendall (Kendall, Edward Calvin) isolated thyroxine from thyroid extracts; in 1921 Frederick Banting (Banting, Sir Frederick Grant) and Charles Best (Best, Charles H.) discovered insulin in pancreatic extracts, immediately transforming the treatment of diabetes; and in 1929 Edward Doisy (Doisy, Edward Adelbert) isolated an estrus-producing hormone from the urine of pregnant females.

      The availability of nuclear technology after World War II also led to new treatments for endocrine disorders, notably the use of radioactive (radioactive isotope) iodine to treat hyperthyroidism, greatly reducing the need for thyroid surgery. Combining radioactive isotopes with antibodies against hormones, Rosalyn Yalow (Yalow, Rosalyn S.) and S.A. Berson in 1960 discovered the basis for radioimmunoassays, which enable endocrinologists to determine with great precision minute amounts of hormone, permitting the early diagnosis and treatment of endocrine disorders.

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Universalium. 2010.

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