Search databaseBooksAll DatabasesAssemblyBiocollectionsBioProjectBioSampleBioSystemsBooksClinVarConserved DomainsdbGaPdbVarGeneGenomeGEO DataSetsGEO ProfilesGTRHomoloGeneIdentical Protein internet CatalogNucleotideOMIMPMCPopSetProteinProtein ClustersProtein family members ModelsPubChem BioAssayPubChem CompoundPubChem SubstancePubMedSNPSRAStructureTaxonomyToolKitToolKitAllToolKitBookgh Bookshelf. A business of the national Library that Medicine, nationwide Institutes of Health.

You are watching: The secrete chemical substances into ducts.

StatPearls . Endowment Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.



A gland is a sensible unit that cells that works with each other to create and release a product right into a duct or directly to the bloodstream. Two principal species of glands exist: exocrine and endocrine. The vital difference in between the two varieties is that, conversely, exocrine glands secrete substances into a ductal device to one epithelial surface, endocrine glands secrete products directly into the bloodstream <1>. Exocrine secretions type in the acinus, a small cluster of cell at the origination that glandular ducts. Exocrine glands subclassify right into subtypes based on the technique of secretion, the link produced, or the form of the gland.

Issues of Concern

This post will discuss:

Various cell varieties found in ~ the exocrine gland, and their functions
Embryologic advancement of exocrine glands
Organ systems affected by exocrine physiology
Functions the exocrine glands
Related clinical testing
Pathophysiology that exocrine glands
Significant clinical aspects


Exocrine glands are consisted of of an acinus and also a duct with various cell types, respectively. These glands are found in numerous organs within the body and also demonstrate a huge variety in the function of their secretions.  as such, a wide selection of cell species exists in exocrine glands.

While the duct functions primarily to transfer glandular secretions, the acinus is responsible for the manufacturing of glandular secretions, and also as such, shows an ext variety in moving composition. Typical cell types within the acinus include serous, mucinous, or sebaceous.

Mucinous glands secrete mucus, a usual example gift Brunner glands in the duodenum.
Sebaceous glands secrete sebum, an oily compound. Sebaceous glands are most prevalent in the face, scalp, groin, and armpits. Cell types can be differentiated histologically together well.  Mucous cells frequently stain lighter 보다 their serous counterparts as soon as stained with hematoxylin and eosin.

As ducts move from the acinus toward the final target, secretions initially enter the intralobular duct. Intralobular ducts have actually a an easy cuboidal epithelium frequently surrounded by parenchyma. Intralobular ducts drain into interlobular ducts, which are a simple columnar epithelium. The final ductal unit is the interlobar duct well-known by a stratified columnar epithelium. Connective organization surrounds both interlobular and also interlobar ducts.


The initial manifestation of exocrine gland development is epithelial budding resulting from a complex interaction in between mesenchymal and epithelial cell populations <3>. This initial period of ingrowth is influenced by fibroblast expansion factors, most notably FGF10 and cadherin-2 <4>. Other transcription factors that have actually been shown to contribute to epithelial budding encompass HlxB9, Isl1, LEF-1, Msx1/2, Pbx1, Pdx1, and also Tbx3 <5>.

Following the initial development of the epithelial bud, ductal elongation occurs. This process undergoes mediation through a big group the molecular signals such as Netrin-1, TIMP1, amphiregulin, IGF1, and leukemia inhibitory factor <5>. Number of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) contribute assistance v basement membrane renewal and also facilitate ductal elongation <6><7>. After ~ an initial duration of ductal elongation, the exocrine gland begins to form ductal branches. NF-kappa-B is thought to play a role <8>, and sonic hedgehog and Wnts <3>. As the duct begins to elongate, the acinus undergoes a duration of cabinet proliferation and also differentiation. Due to the large variety in exocrine gland function, the exact number of cellular signals and also interactions is immense. In general, however, a large role exists for cell adhesion molecules such as laminin and also cadherins <9>.

Exocrine morphogenesis is a quick process. Ductal elongation and branching generally occur in much less than a week, v acini formation emerging 5 to 9 work later <10><11>. In a reasonably short developmental period, exocrine glands kind and can start secreting a functional product.

Organ solution Involved

Due come the diverse number and duty of epithelial surface in the body, countless organ equipment utilize exocrine glands to lug out their respective actions. Several instances will be consisted of here, consisting of skin, mouth, stomach, pancreas, duodenum, and also breasts. 


The skin has actually a range of exocrine glands, consisting of the eccrine sweat glands and also sebaceous glands. Eccrine sweat glands room the most widespread sweat gland in the body and also are current on nearly every outside body surface. The sweat produced is clean with little to no oil, in comparison to sebaceous glands, additionally found top top the skin, i m sorry secretes the much more oily problem sebum.  

Salivary Glands

The salient glands in the mouth are an additional example that exocrine glands and include the parotid glands, submandibular glands, and sublingual glands. While every gland has actually a distinctive mixture of serous and also mucous cells, together, the outstanding glands plot to start the procedure of food cradle while likewise lubricating and protecting the mucosal surfaces.


The stomach hold multiple types of exocrine glands that incorporate pyloric glands, cardiac glands, and also fundic glands. These glands incorporate many different cell types, including parietal cells, cook cells, and also G cells. Together they manage the gastric pH, relax enzymes to malfunction food assets to a digestible form, and assist with the absorb of vital vitamins and minerals.  


The pancreas has both one endocrine and an exocrine function. The exocrine kidneys assists in food cradle by releasing a secretion well-off in bicarbonate, which help to neutralize the acidic environment developed in the stomach. The secretion likewise includes digestive enzymes.


Brunner glands are present in the duodenum the the tiny intestine. This exocrine glands room submucosal and produce a mucous product that protects the duodenum from acid released from the stomach. The alkaline nature the the secretion likewise activates intestinal enzyme to aid with food malfunction and absorption.


The mammary gland is just one of the many well-known instances of one exocrine gland found in the breast. Mammary glands produce milk wealthy in nutrient that additionally provides passive immune to a baby’s immune system.


The specific function of exocrine glands in ~ the human body varies by location and also organ system. However, the primary function is to produce a secretion which subsequently gets released with a ductal system onto an epithelial surface. Examples incorporate secretions that assist in food digestion, mucosal protection, thermoregulation, lubrication, and nutrition.


The 3 mechanisms whereby exocrine glands release their secretions incorporate merocrine, apocrine, and holocrine.

Merocrine glands space the most usual subtype. By definition, merocrine gland secretions departure the cabinet via exocytosis. In this an approach of secretion, there is no cell damage. An instance of merocrine secretion is the eccrine sweat gland. 
Apocrine glands, in contrast, form buds that the membrane which break off into the duct, losing component of the cellular membrane in the process. A renowned apocrine gland is the breastmilk-producing mammary gland. 
The final subtype of excretion is holocrine, in i m sorry the cellular membrane ruptures to relax its product right into the duct. Sebaceous glands room a depiction of holocrine secretion.

Related Testing

In general, testing for an individual exocrine gland duty is not performed. However, dysfunction of exocrine glands can produce a wide selection of clinical manifestations.

Imaging may be perform to check a diagnosis of clogged glands. Sialolithiasis describes instances wherein a rock becomes lodged in ~ the salivary gland or duct, and sialoadenitis refers to inflammation of the gland. CT and also ultrasound are efficient methods of identifying and also localizing stones <12>.

The liver chin acts as an exocrine gland as soon as creating and also excreting bile to be stored in the gallbladder, awaiting expulsion and release with the pancreatic duct into the duodenum. Obstruction, in ~ any point in this pathway, can reason cholecystitis due to inflammation and dysfunction of the gallbladder. Ultrasound is the early diagnostic check to diagnose cholecystitis <13>.

In cystic fibrosis, sodium and chloride are not reabsorbed in ~ the sweat duct because of a dysfunctional CFTR protein, resulting in abnormally salty skin. The sweat chloride test is the main test because that the diagnosis that cystic fibrosis <14>.

Pancreatic insufficiency occurs when the exocrine glands that the pancreas space no much longer able to create the digestive enzymes crucial for food breakdown in the small intestine. Common etiologies encompass chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, and hereditary hemochromatosis. Several methods have the right to be used to evaluate the function of the exocrine pancreas. Fat malabsorption can lead come deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Thus, vitamin levels can be used to estimate pancreatic function <15>. Fecal elastase-1 trial and error is another method with reasonably high specificity and also sensitivity. Low levels that fecal elastase-1 indicate a poorly to work exocrine pancreas <16>. The most perceptible diagnostic an approach for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, however, is utilizing direct pancreatic role tests such together the cholecystokinin (CCK) or secretin stimulation test <17>.


Sjogren Syndrome

Sjogren’s syndrome is commonly connected with rheumatoid arthritis and also other rheumatic diseases. The syndrome is one autoimmune disorder the demonstrates decreased lacrimal and salivary gland role that can additionally have linked systemic symptoms <18><19>. The disease is defined by eye and also mouth dryness because of the gland dysfunction.  as result of mouth dryness, patients with Sjogren syndrome display increased rates of dental candidiasis and dental caries <18><20>. 

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is an autosomal recessive condition that causes impaired chloride transport as result of a mutation the the CFTR protein.  because CFTR is involved in the production of sweat, mucus, and also digestive fluids, the mutation reasons a straight effect top top exocrine gland secretions.  Indeed, roughly 90% of infants born through cystic fibrosis will build pancreatic insufficiency by one year that age <21>.

Acne vulgaris

The ubiquity of acne is an approximated 35 to 90% in adolescents <22>. The disorder affect the pilosebaceous unit, of i m sorry sebaceous glands are an example. The pathogenesis is multifactorial and also often involves hyperkeratinization the the follicle, enhanced sebum production, and also proliferation of Propionibacterium acnes with linked inflammation. Together sebum accumulates, an open comedo forms, also known as a white head. Hyperkeratinization and also increased sebum production bring about clogging of the pores of the pilosebaceous unit. As the lipids in ~ sebum oxidize, the follicular orifice opens, developing an open up comedo, or blackhead.

Treatment because that acne mainly depends ~ above the severity of inflammatory symptoms, but topical retinoids are usually the first-line treatment, back antimicrobial agents are second option because that refractory cases <23>. For severe cases of nodulocystic acne or because that patients who have failed treatment with systemic antibiotics, oral isotretinoin the therapeutic choice <24>.

See more: Wh A Number Divided By 6 Is 18 " In A Expression? A Number Divided By 6 Is 18

Clinical Significance

The exocrine gland can be discovered in plenty of organs and serves a wide range of attributes within the body. As result of this fact, an expertise of the physiology that exocrine glands is essential for medical care workers. Exocrine glands play a crucial role in the physiology of numerous organ systems from the skin to the pancreas, providing the body v a technique to relax secretions include proteins, mucus, and other products to epithelial surfaces around the body. Fan to their varied and also essential roles, the dysfunction that exocrine glands is associated with diseases as wide-ranging as acne vulgaris to Sjogren syndrome.

Murphrey MB, Safadi AO, Vaidya T. StatPearls . StatPearls Publishing; endowment Island (FL): Aug 10, 2020. Histology, Apocrine Gland.
Holmberg KV, Hoffman MP. Anatomy, biogenesis and also regeneration of outstanding glands. Monogr dental Sci. 2014;24:1-13.
Govindarajan V, Ito M, Makarenkova HP, Lang RA, Overbeek PA. Endogenous and ectopic gland induction by FGF-10. Dev Biol. 2000 Sep 01;225(1):188-200.
Wang J, Laurie GW. Organogenesis the the exocrine gland. Dev Biol. 2004 Sep 01;273(1):1-22.
Witty JP, light JH, Matrisian LM. Matrix metalloproteinases are expressed throughout ductal and also alveolar mammary morphogenesis, and also misregulation the stromelysin-1 in transgenic mouse induces unscheduled alveolar development. Mol Biol Cell. 1995 Oct;6(10):1287-303.
Sympson CJ, Talhouk RS, Alexander CM, Chin JR, Clift SM, Bissell MJ, Werb Z. Targeted expression of stromelysin-1 in mammary gland provides evidence for a function of proteinases in branching morphogenesis and also the need for an undamaged basement membrane for tissue-specific gene expression. J cell Biol. 1994 May;125(3):681-93.
Brantley DM, Chen CL, Muraoka RS, Bushdid PB, Bradberry JL, Kittrell F, Medina D, Matrisian LM, Kerr LD, Yull FE. Nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) regulates proliferation and also branching in mouse mammary epithelium. Mol Biol Cell. 2001 May;12(5):1445-55.
Yurchenco PD, Amenta PS, Patton BL. Basement membrane assembly, stability and tasks observed through a developmental lens. Matrix Biol. 2004 Jan;22(7):521-38.
Wessells NK, Evans J. Ultrastructural research studies of at an early stage morphogenesis and also cytodifferentiation in the embryonic mammalian pancreas. Dev Biol. 1968 Apr;17(4):413-46.
Wolff MS, Mirels L, Lagner J, Hand AR. Advance of the rat sublingual gland: a light and electron microscope immunocytochemical study. Anat Rec. 2002 january 01;266(1):30-42.
Thomas WW, Douglas JE, Rassekh CH. Accuracy that Ultrasonography and Computed Tomography in the review of patients Undergoing Sialendoscopy for Sialolithiasis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017 May;156(5):834-839.
Shea JA, Berlin JA, Escarce JJ, Clarke JR, Kinosian BP, Cabana MD, Tsai WW, Horangic N, Malet PF, Schwartz JS. Revised estimates of diagnostic check sensitivity and specificity in doubt biliary street disease. Arch Intern Med. 1994 Nov 28;154(22):2573-81.
Denning CR, Huang NN, Cuasay LR, Shwachman H, Tocci P, Warwick WJ, Gibson LE. Participating study comparing three methods of performing sweat tests come diagnose cystic fibrosis. Pediatrics. 1980 Nov;66(5):752-7.
Dutta SK, Bustin MP, Russell RM, Costa BS. Deficiency the fat-soluble vitamin in cure patients through pancreatic insufficiency. Ann Intern Med. 1982 Oct;97(4):549-52.
Domínguez-Muñoz JE, Hieronymus C, Sauerbruch T, Malfertheiner P. Fecal elastase test: testimonial of a brand-new noninvasive pancreatic duty test. Am J Gastroenterol. 1995 Oct;90(10):1834-7.
Heij HA, Obertop H, Schmitz PI, valve Blankenstein M, Westbroek DL. Testimonial of the secretin-cholecystokinin test because that chronic pancreatitis through discriminant analysis. Scand J Gastroenterol. 1986 Jan;21(1):35-40.
Wu AJ. The dental component of Sjögren"s syndrome: pass the scalpel and check the water. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2003 Aug;5(4):304-10.
Asmussen K, Andersen V, Bendixen G, Schiødt M, Oxholm P. A new model for classification of disease manifestations in major Sjögren"s syndrome: review in a retrospective long-term study. J Intern Med. 1996 Jun;239(6):475-82.
Soto-Rojas AE, Villa AR, Sifuentes-Osornio J, Alarcón-Segovia D, Kraus A. Oral candidiasis and Sjögren"s syndrome. J Rheumatol. 1998 May;25(5):911-5.
Bronstein MN, Sokol RJ, Abman SH, Chatfield BA, Hammond KB, Hambidge KM, Stall CD, Accurso FJ. Pancreatic insufficiency, growth, and also nutrition in infants figured out by child screening as having cystic fibrosis. J Pediatr. 1992 Apr;120(4 Pt 1):533-40.
Stathakis V, Kilkenny M, clues R. Descriptive public health of acne vulgaris in the community. Australas J Dermatol. 1997 Aug;38(3):115-23.
Zaenglein AL, Pathy AL, Schlosser BJ, Alikhan A, Baldwin HE, Berson DS, Bowe WP, Graber EM, Harper JC, Kang S, Keri JE, Leyden JJ, Reynolds RV, Silverberg NB, Stein gold LF, Tollefson MM, Weiss JS, Dolan NC, Sagan AA, Stern M, Boyer KM, Bhushan R. Accuse of treatment for the management of acne vulgaris. J to be Acad Dermatol. 2016 May;74(5):945-73.e33.
Liu A, Yang DJ, Gerhardstein PC, Hsu S. Relapse of acne following isotretinoin treatment: a retrospective research of 405 patients. J medicine Dermatol. 2008 Oct;7(10):963-6.