Autocrine secretion

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Autocrine secretion (from the Greek autós : "self" and krinein : "separate", "release") is a secretion mechanism of cells in which the released hormones and hormone-like substances, for example growth factors , act on the secreting cell itself. The prerequisite is that the cell has receptors for the signal substances it generates. As with paracrine secretion and in contrast to endocrine secretion , the hormones do not reach their “target cells” via the blood, but act in the immediate vicinity.

Autocrine secretion processes control the function and differentiation processes in many organs and tissues . For example

  • Autocrine secretion plays an important role in embryogenesis and tissue regeneration, as cells can be stimulated by self-produced growth factors.
  • the so-called "community effect" occurs: Here, a certain cell density is required in the tissue to be differentiated in order to generate a sufficient concentration of signal substances that initiate cell differentiation. This mechanism plays a role in the development of the neuroectoderm through signals from the notochord .

The autocrine growth control is still based on the fact that the growth of tumor cells is independent of external factors. It therefore represents a possible starting point for tumor therapy. The concentration of growth factors in the blood plasma is reduced by using monoclonal antibodies or their receptors are blocked by specific antibodies.


Lexicon of Biology. Volume 2, Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg, 2004. ISBN 3-8274-0327-8