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Difference Between Exocrine and Endocrine

endocrine-glands-300Exocrine vs Endocrine

Exocrine glands are glands that secrete their products through the ducts, and discharge it into the external environment, to organs or the outside the body. Exocrine glands differ from endocrine glands, because they have ducts that deliver the products in the superficial part of the body, such as the skin, or in the inner part where they are necessary, such as the pancreatic juice that is carried into the intestine to aid digestion. The glands that are found in the body are mostly exocrine glands. Examples of exocrine glands are sweat, saliva and mammary glands, as well as oil and enzymes. There are glands which function as both endocrine and exocrine glands.

Exocrine glands manufacture and release hormones. These hormones are transported to the surround area, and to the blood. A specific receptor is then needed for that hormone to do its specified job. The ducts may be simple or compound. Simple ducts are ducts that are single, while compound ducts accommodate more areas, because they branch out. These ducts can coil and turn in different ways giving rise to sub-classifications, depending on the shape of the ducts. Classifications of exocrine ducts are merocrine glands, holocrine glands and apocrine glands. Secretions in merocrine glands are generated by intact cells. In holocrine glands, cells are permitted to break up to produce compounds, and discharge desired secretions. Apocrine glands dispense the cells with their secretion. Cells are sprouting, and are replaced when needed. These glands secrete proteins or mucus depending on where they are located.

The endocrine system is one of the body’s most important systems, especially with the control of the body’s functions. This is how the body communicates and coordinates with the nervous system, reproductive system, pancreas, liver, kidneys and fat to maintain balance, or homeostasis, with reproduction, growth and development, and energy levels and responses to external stress and injury. Endocrine glands produce hormones that can be used inside the body. The endocrine transmits the hormonal messages to cells by secreting them into the blood and extracellular fluid. A receptor is needed in order to receive the message transmitted. The target points may be cells, tissues or organs.

Endocrine glands are ductless, therefore the secreted hormones are released into the interstitial spaces that surround the cells. The hormones are delivered to the nearest capillaries, and spread throughout the body. The responses are delayed because hormones must first travel through the blood to reach the target organs. The duration is longer because the kidneys filter the blood. The functions of the endocrine are interrelated. Many of the hormones generated serve to alter the work of other endocrine hormones.


1. Exocrine glands have ducts to carry hormones, while endocrine glands are ductless.

2. Exocrine hormones are released into the external environment, or outside of the body. Endocrine hormones are released into the internal environment, or inside of the body.

3. Exocrine glands have sub-classifications.

4. Endocrine response is slower because hormones travel through the blood.

5. The duration in endocrine transmission is prolonged because kidneys have to filter the blood.

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  1. Exocrine glands do NOT release hormones, endocrine glands do

    • I agree with the comment that exocrine glands do not release hormones. The paragraph containing this statement is beset with some serious confusions. Exocrine glands secrete “products” such as tears, sweat, saliva, urine, and vaginal fluids. The descriptions of merocrine, holocrine and apocrine need clearer definitions .

      It is endocrine glands that release their hormones into surrounding tissue and vessels.

      Please correct the summary statements too.

      Dick Nugent

  2. Thank you for this good explanation ..

  3. thanks for giving me a good info about both of the glands……

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