Endocrinologist: Who is and What does it cure? Skills, Knowledge and Collaborations of A.Griguolo


The endocrinologist is the doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the endocrine system.

Deep knowledge of hormonal mechanisms and endocrine glands, the endocrinologist deals with medical conditions, such as, for example, diabetes, thyroid disease, tumors of the endocrine glands, hypogonadism, Addison's disease, the precocious puberty, growth problems, menopausal problems in women and hirsutism.

Who is the endocrinologist?

The endocrinologist is the doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hormone- related diseases and, more generally, of the endocrine system ; the endocrinologist, therefore, has a profound knowledge of: the activity of the endocrine glands, the functions of hormones and the consequences deriving from the lack of a hormone or from the malfunctioning of an endocrine gland.

The endocrinologist is an expert in endocrinology

In medicine, the branch that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all hormone-related disorders and, more generally, diseases of the endocrine system is called endocrinology .

In light of this, the endocrinologist is a doctor specializing in endocrinology.

Endocrine System: a brief review

The endocrine system is the set of all the glands capable of producing hormones; in other words, it is the set of endocrine glands .

The endocrine system contributes in a decisive way to the well-being of the human organism throughout its existence: it provides, in fact, to regulate the metabolism, growth, reproduction, sexual development ( puberty ), the sleep-wake cycle, digestion, stress and mood .


Hormones are biological substances that carry a specific signal from a cell, a tissue or an organ to another cell, another tissue or another organ, in order to cause a certain functional response; the hormones, therefore, are a kind of messengers for the exchange of information between the various parts of the human organism.

Hormones reach their destinations using the circulatory stream, which is the blood that circulates along the vascular system of the human body.

Did you know that ...

In biology, hormones are defined with the particular expression of "chemical messengers".


By definition, the endocrine glands are the glands of the human body that pour the product of their secretory activity directly into the blood, so as to exploit the circulatory stream for delivery to the destination site of the aforementioned product.

The endocrine glands are - as announced - hormone-producing glands (ie hormones represent their secretion).

The endocrine glands can be divided into two categories:

  • The category of the major endocrine glands, which includes hypothalamus, pituitary gland, epiphysis, thyroid, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands, pancreas and gonads,


  • The category of minor endocrine glands, to which belong heart, stomach, intestine, kidneys, thymus, adipose tissue and, only in women, placenta.

Deepening on the major endocrine glands

Hypothalamus : located inferiorly to the thalamus, it is the endocrine gland also made up of nerve cells, which has the important task of secreting the hormones destined to interact and stimulate the nearby pituitary gland.

The hormones secreted by the hypothalamus include: GnRH, TRH, GHRH, CRH and the so-called hypothalamic dopamine and hypothalamic somatostatin.

Pituitary gland: is the endocrine gland that, under stimulation of the nearby hypothalamus, is able to secrete as many as 9 different hormones, which serve to direct the hormonal activity of the endocrine glands of the thyroid gland, adrenals and gonads.

The 9 pituitary hormones are: growth hormone (GH), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), thyrotropin, gonadotropins LH and FSH, prolactin, melanotropic hormone (MSH), antidiuretic hormone (ADH) and oxytocin.

Epiphysis : located at the level of the diencephalon, it is the endocrine gland responsible for the secretion of melatonin, ie the hormone used to regulate the sleep-wake cycle during the day.
Thyroid : located in the anterior region of the neck, at the base of the throat, it is the endocrine gland which, upon stimulation by the pituitary TSH, produces 3 hormones: triiodothyronine (also called T3), thyroxine (also called T4) and calcitonin.
Parathyroid glands : generally 4 in number and located behind the thyroid, are the endocrine glands used to produce parathyroid hormone (PTH), which is essential to regulate blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, two essential minerals for bone health .
Adrenal glands : located above the kidneys, they are the endocrine glands that are responsible for the secretion of the hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline, aldosterone and cortisol.
Pancreas : placed just behind the stomach, is the voluminous endocrine gland, also belonging to the digestive system, which has the important task of secreting the hormones glucagon, insulin, somatostatin, gastrin and pancreatic peptide.
Gonads : corresponding to the ovaries in women and to the testes in humans, it is the endocrine glands which, under the influence of the pituitary hormones LH and FSH, produce sex hormones and gametes.

History: the most famous Endocrinologists

Among the most famous endocrinologists in history, they deserve a report:

  • Arnold Berthold, because, during an experiment on cockerels dating back to 1849, he noticed that the presence of the testicles was fundamental for the appearance of combs and wattles (secondary sexual characteristics) and the development of typically masculine behavior.
  • Robert James Graves and Karl Adolph von Basedow, as they hold the distinction of having described for the first time, independently of each other, the symptoms of a particular form of goiter (thyroid disease), now known as Basedow's disease -Graves or Basedow-Graves disease .
  • Thomas Addison, in that, in 1849, he first described Addison's disease, an adrenal disease.
  • William Bayliss and Ernest Starling, because, in 1902, they discovered the existence of the hormone secretin ; produced by duodenal cells, secretin has the important task of inducing the pancreas to secrete a liquid (pancreatic juice) essential to buffer the acidity of the stomach, during the digestion process.
  • Joseph von Mering and Oskar Minkowski, because, in 1889, they observed that the absence of the pancreas led to an increase in blood sugar levels (the characteristic symptom of diabetes mellitus), followed by coma and possibly death.
  • Otto Loewi, because, in 1921, he discovered the so-called neurohormones, that is those substances secreted by certain neurons that are endowed with hormonal activity.
  • Earl Sutherland, in that, in 1962, he started the first investigations into the molecular mechanisms that characterize the action of hormones (molecular endocrinology).


The endocrinologist is a doctor with a specific preparation on everything concerning the endocrine system; in fact, he knows in detail everything concerning: the effects of hormones, hormonal release mechanisms, hormonal inhibition mechanisms, the function of endocrine glands and endocrine system disorders.

What Cures

The endocrinologist has for patients all those individuals who suffer from a condition characterized by a hormonal imbalance; remembering the relationship between hormones and endocrine glands, in practical terms the endocrinologist can be treated:

  • People with diabetes mellitus . Diabetes mellitus, or more simply diabetes, is a metabolic disease resulting from a decline in insulin activity, a hormone secreted by the beta cells of the islets of Langerhans of the pancreas.
  • People with a thyroid disease . Thyroid diseases include: hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, goiter, thyroid nodules and thyroiditis.
  • Individuals with a neoplasm of an endocrine gland. The neoplasms that affect the endocrine glands have the normal consequence of the malfunctioning of the endocrine glands themselves; for example, pituitary tumors alter the hormonal activity of the latter, with repercussions, depending on the pituitary region involved, on growth, sexual development, functionality of the gonads, metabolism, etc.
  • Individuals with infertility due to hypogonadism . Hypogonadism is the medical term that indicates a more or less marked reduction in the functional activity of the gonads; represented by the testicles in men and by the ovaries in women, the gonads are the endocrine glands responsible for the production of sex cells (spermatozoa, in humans, and egg cells, in women) and sex hormones
  • Subjects with a growth problem . The problems of growth can be divided into two broad categories: dwarfism, in which there is a defect in statural development, and gigantism, in which there is an excess of statural development.
  • Women with problems related to menopause . Menopause is that physiological period (therefore natural and not pathological) of a woman's life, placed between the end of 40 years and the beginning of 50 (the average age is 51), which marks the end of female fertility as well as repetition of menstruation.

    Characterized by profound hormonal changes, menopause becomes a problematic condition, for which it is worthwhile to contact an endocrinologist, when it causes very intense symptoms (normally it produces annoying but tolerable symptoms) or when it occurs before the canonical age (early menopause ).

  • Subjects with osteoporosis . Osteoporosis is a common systemic disease of the skeleton, which causes a strong weakening of the bones and, consequently, predisposes to fractures.

    Osteoporosis affects the endocrinologist, when it depends on an imbalance of some hormones essential for bone wellness.

  • People with dyslipidemia . The term "dyslipidemia" indicates any significant abnormality of the lipids present in the blood.

    Dyslipidemias (including hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia ) are objects of interest to the endocrinologist because they involve an increase in blood levels of cortisol, which is the fundamental component for the synthesis of steroid hormones.

  • Young protagonists of precocious puberty or early puberty . Puberty is that period of life of the human being, in which sexual development occurs, the maturation of the gonads and a series of psychological and behavioral modifications, such as the development of the sexual drive.

    In the male, puberty generally begins around the age of 13 and ends at the age of about 17; in the female, on the other hand, it begins around 11 years and ends between 15 and 16 years.

    Puberty is said to be precocious when it occurs before the age of 9, in males, and before 8 years, in females, while it is defined as early when it occurs shortly after 9 years, in males, and shortly after 8 years, in females.

  • Women with hirsutism . Doctors speak of hirsutism when, in women, hard and coarse hairs appear in those districts of the body that, normally, are covered by hair only in men (upper lip, chin, abdomen, back, around the areola of the nipple, chest central).
  • Subjects suffering from Addison's disease . Also known as chronic adrenal insufficiency, Addison's disease is the medical condition resulting from the inability of the adrenal glands to produce corticosteroid hormones in the right amounts.
  • People with genetic diseases that interfere with the activity of certain hormones or certain endocrine glands. Among the genetic diseases with such consequences deserve a mention: Klinefelter syndrome, Turner syndrome, achondroplasia, Marfan syndrome and Sotos syndrome .


Today, the endocrinologist has the opportunity to ultra-specialize and acquire specific skills in a very specific area of ​​his subject, endocrinology.

Going into more detail, the current endocrinologist can deepen his knowledge and become an expert on:

  • Pediatric endocrinology . An ultra-specialized endocrinologist in pediatric endocrinology has a specific preparation in the diagnosis and treatment methods for hormonal imbalances that affect children.
  • Diabetological endocrinology . An ultra-specialized endocrinologist in diabetological endocrinology is particularly prepared in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes mellitus and insulin imbalances that characterize this widespread metabolic disease.
  • Thyroid endocrinology . An ultra-specialized endocrinologist in thyroid endocrinology has a specific preparation in the diagnosis and treatment of hormonal imbalances related to thyroid dysfunction / disease.
  • Andrological endocrinology . An ultra-specialized endocrinologist in andrological endocrinology is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of all those purely male conditions, which are characterized by an abnormal activity or inadequate development of the gonads.
  • Gynecological endocrinology . An ultra-specialized endocrinologist in gynecological endocrinology is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the female genital tract characterized by some hormonal dysfunction (eg, female hypogonadism, early menopause, etc.).
  • Oncological endocrinology . An ultra-specialized endocrinologist in oncological endocrinology has a particular preparation in the diagnosis and treatment methods of hormonal dysfunctions due to the presence of some neoplasia.
  • Molecular endocrinology . An ultra-specialized endocrinologist in molecular endocrinology is an expert on the cellular mechanisms that characterize the action of hormones.

With Chi Collabora

Very often, the endocrinologist works with other professionals in the medical sector; in particular, among these professional figures it is possible to find:

  • The surgeon . Endocrinologist and surgeon collaborate when they have to face a pathology that requires the removal of a malfunctioning endocrine gland or part of it;
  • The oncologist . Endocrinologist and oncologist work together when they have to cope with a neoplasm that alters the functionality of an endocrine gland; often, this type of collaboration also involves the surgeon;
  • The neurologist . The endocrinologist and the neurologist cooperate when they have to cope with a hormonal imbalance dependent on the dysfunction of one of the endocrine glands located at the encephalic level (hypothalamus, pituitary and epiphysis);
  • The gynecologist . The endocrinologist supports the gynecologist when he has to face a pathology of the female genital tract characterized by some hormonal dysfunction;
  • The geneticist (in general, is a biologist experienced in the field of genetics). The endocrinologist and the geneticist work together when they have to face a pathology of the endocrine system with a genetic-hereditary origin;
  • The gastroenterologist . The endocrinologist and the gastroenterologist cooperate when they have to fight a pathology that concerns an organ of the digestive system that also belongs to the endocrine system (ex: pancreas or intestine);
  • The pediatrician . Endocrinologist and pediatrician collaborate when they have to face a pathology of the endocrine system in a child.