We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the Role of Negative Feedback in the Endocrine System?

By H. Colledge
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The endocrine system governs important bodily functions, such as temperature and metabolism, by controlling the body's production of hormones. These hormones are secreted into the blood by the endocrine organs, such as the pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands, before traveling to their target tissues. What is known as negative feedback regulates the amounts of hormones available by detecting when blood levels rise above a threshold and inhibiting hormone production. This prevents hormone levels in the blood from continuing to rise, which could result in illness.

Although positive feedback does occur, negative feedback in the endocrine system is much more common. The negative feedback process is sometimes compared to a house heating system, where temperatures above a certain level are detected by a thermostat. This switches off the heating until the temperature falls below a minimum threshold, when the heating switches on again. Negative feedback leads to hormone production switching on and off, creating pulses of hormone secretion. This means that blood hormone levels rise and fall cyclically, within a relatively narrow normal range.

An example of negative feedback in the endocrine system can be seen in the regulation of thyroid hormones. It starts with the brain's hypothalamus, which produces thyroid releasing hormone (TRH). This hormone moves to the nearby pituitary gland, causing production of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which is then released into the blood stream. On reaching the thyroid, TSH stimulates the cells there to now secrete thyroid hormones. These are important hormones that affect the physiology of practically all of the body's cells.

When the level of thyroid hormones in the blood reaches an upper threshold, the cells in the hypothalamus that make and secrete TRH are affected. The result is that TRH, then TSH, and finally thyroid hormone levels fall. Once the level of thyroid hormones in the blood falls below a lower threshold point, negative feedback ends. This means that TRH is produced by the hypothalamus again, leading to renewed TSH secretion and thyroid hormone synthesis and release.

The hormone production of many endocrine glands is associated with control by negative feedback. In addition to feedback loops, other factors can affect hormone secretion. One example of this is the increase in TRH secretion seen in a young child who is in a cold environment. This mechanism is thought to result from the ability of thyroid hormones to regulate body temperature.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By indemnifyme — On Nov 04, 2011

This is very interesting. So basically, the endocrine systems produces hormones until it has produced a little bit too much. Then, the endocrine system stops producing hormones until there aren't enough hormones in the system.

I think this is actually a really odd way for anything to function. Why wouldn't the body just produce a steady amount of hormones? It seems like that would make more sense instead of starting and stopping all the time!

By starrynight — On Nov 03, 2011

Here's a fun fact I learned when I took anatomy and physiology: most processes in the body are based on negative feedback. Childbirth is a notable exception because it is based on negative feedback. But other than that, I can't think of any body processes that are based on positive feedback (when they're taking place normally, anyway.)

Also, I have to say I think the analogy made in the article about negative feedback being similar to the way a thermostat works is great. I wish I had heard of that example when I was actually taking anatomy and physiology!

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.