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Nervous system and hormones

Today’s program
• Overview nervous system
• Neurons and impulse transmission
• Transmission between neurons
• Hormones: Intro
• How hormones work
• Ex. of hormon function:
– T3/T4
– Ca2+ regulation
– Stress response
– Insulin and glucagon in blood glucose regulation
References used
• Byrd-Bredbenner et al. (2016): Wardlaw's
Perspectives in Nutrition. 10th Ed.
• Martini & Bartholomew (2017): Essentials of
Anatomy and Physiology. 7. global edition
• Shier et al.: Hole's Essentials of Human
Anatomy and Physiology. 11. edition
• Widmaier et al. (2011): Vander’s Human
Physiology. McGraw-Hill.
• Colbert et al. (2011): Anatomy, & Physiology,
for Health Professionals – an interactive
journey. 2nd edition
Learning outcomes
• Describe the functional divisions of nervous system
• Describe the functions of the sympathetic and
parasympathetic nervous system
• Describe the events involved in the generation and
propagation of an action potential
• Explain the process of nerve impulse transmission at
• Describe the steps in a reflex arc
• Contrast the major structural classes of hormones
• Explain the location and function of the following
– Thyroid hormones T3/T4: Metabolism
– Parathyroid hormone/calcitonin/vitamin D: Ca2+ regulation
– Adrenal gland hormones epinephrine, nor-epinephrine and
cortisol in stress response:
– Insulin and glucagon in blood glucose regulation
Nervous system
Nervous system: Intro
• The nervous system functions like a
telecommminications company, with a cable
network carrying high-speed ”messages” from
one location to another inside body:
– Source and destination of ”messages” are fairly
– Effects are short-lived: Crisis management: Ex.:
barking dog is hunting you => nervous system
coordinate and help you to safety
Nervous system: Main functions
• Monitor’s body’s internal and external
enviroments (e.g. blood pressure, chemicals)
• Integrates sensory information (e.g. from
thermo- or pain receptors)
• Coordinates voluntary (e.g. movement) and
involuntary (e.g cardiac) responses of organ
Nervous system: Intro
The Nervous System has two major divisions:
• The Central Nervous System (CNS), which is
composed of the brain and spinal cord
• The Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) is
composed of the nerves that connect the
brain/spinal cord with the body’s muscles,
glands, and sense organs.
• The neuron (nerve cell) is the basic cell type of
both systems

Functional overview of nervous system

2 divisions
communication between
CNS and rest of body Controls skeletal
muscle con-

E.g. barorecep- tions
tor (BP changes)
E.g. thermo-
E.g. stretch
hand Secretions:
reflex: hand
on hot stove
on hot stove Sweat-/tear-

Afferent (”bring to”): Signals from periphery to CNS Sympathetic: ”Fight-or-flight => HR↑ etc.
Efferent (”bring out”): Signals from CNS to muscles and gland (effectors: doing something) Parasympathetic: Resting: HP↓, digestion
Autonomic nervous system
Parasympathetic/sympathetic: Part of autonomous nervous system
which control involuntary body functions, e.g. activity of heart
“Resting” Fight-/flight

Secretion: gastric juice

Ex. parasympathetic NS: Secretion gastric juice
3 types of neurons

Skin and organs

99% of
all neurons: Sensory: e.g. thermo-
Can commu- Sensory receptor (temp.) in skin;
nicate with taste receptor on tongue
sensory-, effe-
rent- and other Muscle and

Ex.: Sensory receptor in skin

- Sensory receptor 1: free nerve ending in skin can provide sensation of pain in response to
chemicals, pressure, heat or cut via sending information/signal to CNS (spine/brain)
- Sensory receptor 2: Tactile corpuscle (e.g. in nails): Dendrites/recepetor respond to fine touch,
pressure (touch) and vibration
Ex.: CNS/PNS response: Baroreceptor reflex (BP)


Interneuron Afferent/

Interneurons 14
Q1: The neuron (5 min.)
• Explain the function of the following in a
neuron: Dendrites, axon and cell body.
Q1: Nerve cells (neuron)

Myelin sheath: Serves as electrical insulation => increases speed of action potential (elec-
trical impulse) along axon
Bonus question: Which dietary factor is associated with myelin sheath?
Neuron: Characteristics: Electrical current
• Neuron is excitable cell => carries a small
electrical charge when stimulated (e.g. by
mechanoreceptor or another neuron)
• Stimulation => charged particles (electrolytes)
flow across cell membrane => electrical current
(nerve impulse) is generated => cell can send
(receive) signals => like miniature battery
Advance Q1: Action potential
• Explain how an action potential is generated
in a neuron?
Cell polarized: negative inside
via larger K+ leak and Na+/K+ pump
Generation of AP
Moving depo-
larization along
axon (nerve

E.g. sensory receptor, chemo-

receptor, temp. change

Na+ channels
close and K+
Na+ enter diffuse out of
cell => more cell => more
Signal spreads: Moving depol. positive negative

-70mV since
interior more
Action potential: Spread of AP and Refractory state
NA+ enters

AP spread from site A to site B in unmyelinated axon

via entry/spread of Na+

Refractory state:
Until repolarization
complete => cell
cannot respond to
new stimulus (AP): Site A repolarize once
AP reaches site B
Neuron ”fatigued”
Explain how an action potential is generated
and transmitted in a neuron?

Advance Q2
• Explain how an action potential is transmitted
in a neuron?
Advance Q2: Saltatory conduction
Presence of myelin
sheath: electrical
insulator => AP
”jump over”
myelinated regions
of axon =>
occurs only at
nodes of Ranviers
(ions cannot pass
through lipid based

-AP velocity: 18-

140 m per second
(much faster
than unmyelinated
Synapses: Communication beteween neurons

• -Communication between
neurons occur at synapse:
action potential flows toward
AP Axon terminal axon terminal which connects
to receiving cell
• -Synapses: site where neuron
Synapse • communicates with other cell
(a junction).
neuron AP con- • -Information transfer is via
release of chemicals,
• neurotransmitters => send
signal to next cell (postsynaptic
Advance Q3
• Describe how the transmission of a signal
from a neuron to another neuron (or to a
muscle cell) takes place via a
Advance Q3 - Communication between
neurons occurs at synapse.
- AP is electrical and what
occurs at synapse is chemical
=>transmission of impulses is
electrochemical event
Advance Q3: Transmission of signal

Depolarization of axon terminal =>

Ca2+ channels open and
Ca2+ entry into neuron cause
vesicles to release neurotransmitter
acetylcholine which fuse
with neuron membrane =>
neurotransmitter can enter
via exocytosis into synaptic cleft
Advance Q3: Transmission of signal
- Binding of acetylcholine (chemical)
to Na+ channels => NA+ channels
open => Na+ ions enter post-
synaptic neuron/cell.
- If threshold reached => AP
initialized in postsynaptic neuron/muscle
Postsynaptic cell (electrical).
neuron/muscle - Transmission of impulses is
thus a electrochemical event

Enzyme acetylcholineesterase
removes acetylcholine (inac-
tivates receptors) via
breaking it into acetate and
choline (will be synthesized back
to acetylcholine in vesicles
in presynaptic neuron for resupply)
Advance Q3

AP => votage-gated Ca2+ channels

open => Ca2+ cause vesicles to
Release neurotransmitter which fu-
se with neuron membrane =>
neurotransmitter can dif-
fuse into synaptic cleft

=> e.g. Na+ into cell => AP

Ex. excitatory: Acetylcholine
Synapses: inhibitory
or excitatory
depending on

b Muscle contraction
The spinal cord and reflexes

Somatic nervous system (movement

of body)
Focus: Somatic part of nervous system

Controls skeletal
muscle con-
Intro: Spinal chord and reflexes
We will now look at the spinal nerves consisting of sensory neurons and motor
neurons (PNS), which play an important role in e.g. reflexes
Intro: Spinal cord and reflexes
Throughout each segment of the spinal cord we got spinal nerves; in total 31
pairs of spinal nerves; one of these from cervical segment C3 is illustrated below
(C3: Cervical spinal nerve: Neck region)

Spinal cord
Dorsal Gray matter: sensory- and motor
root Sensory neurons
Sensory neuron/
neuron/ afferent


Motor neuron/
Motor neuron/efferent efferent Ventral root
to diaphragma

- Spinal nerves: axons of a) sensory neurons with signals from e.g. muscle- and skin receptors
(touch, temperature, pain) which travels in dorsal root to spinal cord (CNS) and b) motor neurons
which give effector/reflex responses and travels in ventral root from the spinal cord (CNS) to effectors
(e.g. muscles)
Spinal nerves and their target areas
Fig.: The 31 pairs of spinal nerves in the diffe-
rent segments targets different bodily

- Cervical nerves supply shoulders/upper limbs

and diaphragm

- Thoracic nerves supply chest and abdominal


- Lumbar nerves supply pelvis, lower limbs

Our example, cervical nerve C3 (last slide),

targets/controls the diaphragm muscle which
is essential in respiration/lung function.
Reflexes: Spinal nerves and reflex arcs (8 min.)
• Label the indicated structures in this diagram of a reflex

• Briefly verbalize step-by step what happens during the

reflex in the figure.
Hormones: Intro (3 min.)
• What is the overall function of hormones?
Locations of major endocrine glands
- And the hormones we are going to focus on

hormone (ADH)

Thyroxine (T4), triio-

dothyronine (T3) and
hormone (PTH)

Epinephrine, norepine-
phrine, aldosterone

Glucagon and
Hormones intro (2)
• Body has two kinds of glands:
– Exocrine: release its secretion to outside
environment through duct (e.g. pancreatic
digestive juice from pancreas)
– Endocrine: release its secretion (hormones) into
bloodstream and act on target cells some distance
away. Used to e.g. regulate blood pressure, water-
and electrolyte balance (e.g. blood calcium)
Glands: Exocrine/Endocrine. Ex. pancreas

Exocrine gland: Secrete

digestive juice into pan-
creatic duct

Endocrine gland: Pancrea-

tic islet: Release hormones
into blood

Chemical communication: Nervous-/endocrine system


E.g. beta-cells
in pancreas:
(long lasting effect)

Hormone can be permissive (turn on), antagonistic (turn off) or synergistic (work together with
other hormones) in performing tasks (depending on body needs)
Nervous- vs. endocrine system
Endocrine: ”Standing orders”; purpose to maintain consistency (long lasting effect)
Nervous system: Issue orders obeyed instantaneously for short-term situations
Two systems work together to respond to changing incoming signals

Type of hormones

/ /
Eicosanoids FA based

Small molecules

class of
hormones , insulin
Advance Q4
• How do hormones generally work?
How hormones work: non-steroid: (peptides, proteins)

ion channels
open; enzy-
me activity↑

G-protein, adenylate cyclase and cAMP is extracurricular

How hormones work
How hormones work: Steriod 1. Lipid-soluble =>
hormones can pass through
cell membranes.
2. Hormone couples
to receptor located in
target cell’s nucleus
(or cytoplasm)
3. Hormone-receptor
complex binds with
4. This activates
specific genes which
5. direct synthesis of
specific proteins,
which carry out
effect associated with
steroid hormone
-Process: E.g. 30 min
Animation: Mechanism steroid hormones
Pituitary (hypophysis) gland and
its hormones
Endocrine control: Hypothalamus/pituitary gland

Nerve signalling


e.g. thyroid-
stimulating hor-
7 hormones: Synthesized and Synthesized in hypothalamus
mone (TSH) => Hormones
released from pituitary and released from pituitary gl.
stimulates thy-
roid gland =>
release of thyroid 9 hormones in total from pituitary gland
Stimultation 9 pituitary gland hormones

7 hormones
In kidney from anterior
E.g. cortisol Poste-
Stage 1 class lobe end 2 from
Promoting labor/
delivery + ejec-
tion of milk
Stage 2

T3/T4 Skin cells: Me-

lanin (pigment)

Stimulate Stimules
cell growth milk production
in bone,
muscle Reproductive system
Ex. function of pituitary gland hormones: Our focus



in urinary
Thyroid gland – T3/T4 hormone
and connection to iodine
Thyroid gland (neck region)

Under larynx T3/T4 synthesis

and in front
of trachea

Thyroid gland – T3/T4 hormone
TRH: Thyrotropin-releasing hormone -T4: Thyroxine: 4 iodine atoms
TSH: Thyroid-stimulating hormone -T3: 3 iodine atoms
-Iodine is absorped from diet and
via blood diffuses to thyroid gland
where they are a vital part of the
synthesis of T3/T4 (the hormones).
-T3/T4 bind to receptor on mitochon-
dria and nucleus.

Effects of thyroid hormone

Anterior (T3/T4):
lobe - Increase metabolism of
macronutrients (Glycolysis↑, ATP
production and heat ↑)
-Major factor in determining
calorie needs: basal metabolic rate
-Required for normal development
of skeletal-, muscle- and nervous
Negative Iodine used to
system during growth/maturation
synthesize T3/T4 -HR↑ (indirect effect)
Hypo- and hyperthyroidism
Deficiency of iodine leads to decreased production of T3/T4 => hypothyroidism
(symptoms depends on severity of condition):
- Goiter
- Low metabolic rate/low body
- Tiredness/weakness
- Weigh gain
- Constipation

Hyperthyriodism (elevated T3/T4):

Causes: Auto-immune response, dietary supplements, cold remedies,
prescription drugs and seaweed products contain amounts of iodine that could
prompt a hyperthyroid reaction if taken in excess.
- High metabolic rate/high body temperature (Sweating/feeling warm)
- Irregular heart beat
- Increased appetite/weight loss
– Sometimes diarrhea
Parathyroid gland – PTH hormone
Parathyroid hormone: Parathyroid gland (neck region)


on back surface of
Thyroid gland
Parathyroid hormone: Response to Ca2+↓ in blood



Transported in

1) 2)

PTH inhibit
osteoblasts 3)
(bone building)
and stimulates
osteoclast (bone
dissolving) Hormone
Calcitonin: Response to Ca2+↑ in blood



=> less Ca2+ to blood Calcitonin produced

Osteoblasts stimulated by thyroid’s C cells
(not considered
thyroid hormone)


-Important for children during growth (can effect skeletal system development)
and pregnant women not to have too high blood calcium levels
Advance Q5
• Which hormones are released by the adrenal
medulla and what are its effects?
Stress response (short-term): Adrenal medulla
Adrenal medulla: releases
Norepinephrine hormones
Stress response: Fight/flight

NE as neuro-
Nerve signal:
Hormones: HR↑
Adrenal medulla receives neuro-
transmitter norepinephrine from
(up to 10 times as long sympathetic NS => triggers release
effect than nerve signal)
of hormones norepinephrine and
(mobilizing energy) epinephrine into bloodstream

Prepares body for

physical action: Muscular
power and endurance
Long-term stress response: Adrenal cortex
In stress response: hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis involved via cortisol

Adrenal cortex: Cortisol hormone

Response to stress: Long term: resistance
Stressor: Physical and
psychological factors

Resistance phase: If stress.
Autonomous nerve
Part of general system Corticotropin-
sympathetic Long-term releasing
activation hormone

tropic hormone

(+ glucagon from

Advance Q6: Insulin and glucagon

What is the role of insulin and glucagon in blood

glucose regulation?
Ad. Q6: Role of glucagon in blood glucose regulation
Fasting state: Blood
glucose < 80 mg/dL =>
Glucagon dominating



3) 4)

Ad. Q6: Role of insulin in blood glucose regulation
Blood glucose > 100
mg/dL => Insulin
dominating hormone
(compared to glucagon)

3) 4) Insulin has the effects:

-Lowering blood glucose
conc. via transporting
Prevents conver-
sion of AA to
glucose into cell
glucose (essential in T2D
2) - anabolic effect
(synthesizing TG and
glycogen to increase
stores) whereas
glucagon has catabolic
1) effect (breakdown of
• Faulty glucose metabolism causing buildup of
glucose in the blood and urine
• Type 1 diabetes
– Inadequate insulin production
• Type 2 diabetes
– Display insulin resistance where tissues/cells do
not respond properly to insulin => glucose does
not get transported in sufficient amounts into cells
• Symptoms: hyperglycemia (excess blood
glucose levels)
Type 1 vs. Type 2 diabetes