• hormones;
  • embryo;
  • development;
  • paracrine;
  • autocrine;
  • growth factors


Peptide hormones, usually considered to be endocrine factors responsible for communication between tissues remotely located from each other, are increasingly being found to be synthesized in developing tissues, where they act locally. Several hormones are now known to be produced in developing tissues that are unrelated to the endocrine gland of origin in the adult. These hormones are synthesized locally, and are active as differentiation and survival factors, before the developing adult endocrine tissue becomes functional. There is increasing evidence for paracrine and/or autocrine actions for these factors during development, thus, placing them among the conventional growth and differentiation factors. We review the evidence for the view that thyroid hormones, growth hormone, prolactin, insulin, and parathyroid hormone-related protein are developmental growth and differentiation factors. Developmental Dynamics 237:1537–1552, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.