The Endocrine Glands - The thymus and pineal glands



These are the least known of the endocrine family; in fact, physicians do not know the function of one of them—the pineal— and are not even agreed that it is an endocrine gland. Situated near the hypothalamus, at the base of the brain, this tiny, pinecone-shaped body has follicles that suggest a glandular function and some calcium-containing bits that medical researchers have descriptively dubbed “brain sand.”

The thymus , only slightly better understood, has the intriguing characteristic of shrinking in size as a person grows up. It is located in the middle of the chest, about midway between the base of the neck and the breast line. There is some evidence that the secretions of the thymus play a role in the body's natural immunity defenses. See also Ch. 14, Diseases of the Endocrine Glands .



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