Exocrine gland

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Phone:617-632-7753

Exocrine glands are glands that secrete their products (enzymes) into ducts (duct glands). They are the counterparts to endocrine glands, which secrete their products (hormones) directly into the bloodstream (ductless glands).


Typical exocrine glands include sweat glands, salivary glands, mammary glands, stomach, liver and the pancreas.


There are multiple ways of classifying exocrine glands:


Exocrine glands contain a glandular portion and a duct portion, the structures of which can be used to classify the gland.

  • The duct portion may be branched (called compound) or unbranched (called simple).
  • The glandular portion may be tubular, acinar, or may be a mix of the two (called tubuloacinar). If the glandular portion branches, then the gland is called a branched gland.

Method of secretion

Exocrine glands are named apocrine gland, holocrine gland, or merocrine gland based on how their product is secreted.

  • Apocrine glands - a portion of the plasma membrane buds off the cell, containing the secretion. Apocrine gland is often used to refer to the apocrine sweat glands which use merocrine secretion.
  • Holocrine glands - the entire cell disintegrates to secrete its substance.
  • Merocrine glands - cells secrete their substances by exocytosis. Also called "eccrine."

Product secreted

List of exocrine glands

Glands typically may be referred to by two or more means, though some terms are rarely seen. The names of the anatomists who first described them are often employed, as:

name(s) location product structure
apocrine sweat glands skin - coiled tubular
Bartholin's glands, Tiedmann's glands, vulvovaginal glands vulva, vagina - -
Bauhin's glands, anterior lingual glands tongue, near tip nonserous or mixed -
Brunner's glands, duodenal glands duodenum mucous compound tubular
bulbourethral glands, Cowper's glands, Mery's glands penis, base - -
Ciaccio's glands, accessory lacrimal glands eye - -
Cobelli's glands esophagus, just above the cardia, in the mucosa mucous -
Duverney's gland vagina, on either side - -
Ebner's glands tongue serous -
eccrine sweat glands skin - coiled tubular
esophageal glands esophagus mucous racemose
exocrine pancreas pancreas serous tubulo-acinar
Fränkel's glands vocal cords, below the edge - -
gastric chief cell, Wasmann's glands stomach serous -
glomus coccygeum, coccygeal gland, Luschka's gland or ganglion coccyx, near the tip - -
goblet cells digestive tract, respiratory tract mucous simple unicellular
Henle's glands eyelids, in the conjuctiva - tubular
Huguier's glands vagina - -
Krause's glands conjunctiva, middle portion mucous -
Lieberkuhn's glands intestines, surface of mucous membrane - simple tubular
Littré's glands, Morgagni's glands spongy portion of the urethra - racemose
mammary gland breast - compound tubulo-acinar
Meibomian gland eyelids sebaceous -
Moll's glands eyelids - -
Montgomery's glands mammary areola sebaceous -
Naboth's glands cervix and os uteri mucous -
olfactory glands, Bowman's glands nose, olfactory region - -
Paneth cells small intestine serous -
parathyroid glands, Gley's glands, Sandstroem's glands thyroid, on surface - -
parotid gland mouth serous tubulo-alveolar
Peyer's patches (or glands) ileum, lymphatic glands - -
pyloric glands stomach mucous simple branched tubular
sebaceous gland skin sebum acinar - branched
Skene's glands, Guérin's glands vagina - -
sublingual gland, Rivini's gland mouth mucus (primarily) tubulo-alveolar
submandibular gland mouth mixed (M+S) tubulo-alveolar
sudoriparous glands, Boerhaave's glands skin - -
Sigmund's glands epitrochlear lymph nodes - -
Suzanne's gland mouth, beneath the alveolingual groove mucous -
Weber's glands tongue mucous tubular
Glands of Zeis eyelids, free edges sebaceous -

See also

Prostate gland is an exocrine gland of the male mammalian reproductive system. It secretes a clear and basic fluid that constitutes 1/3 of the volume of semen.

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