Difference Between Nervous System and Endocrine System


Main Difference

The main difference between the Nervous System and the Endocrine System is that the Nervous System uses electrical signals or impulses and Endocrine System uses chemical messengers to send signals.

Nervous System vs. Endocrine System

The nervous system is composed of neurons, nerves, and glial cell while the Endocrine system is composed of endocrine glands. The nervous system transmits signals electrically and chemically, whereas Endocrine system transmits signals through chemicals. The nervous system involves the conduction of impulse while Endocrine system does not involve the conduction of impulses. The nervous system works through chemicals like serotonin, epinephrine, etc. while the Endocrine system works through chemicals called hormones. The nervous system shows response in milliseconds, on the other hand; Endocrine system shows response depending upon the nature of hormone involved e.g. from seconds to days.


Comparison Chart

Nervous SystemEndocrine System
The Nervous system is the system that comprises of a complex network of nerves, neurons, and glial cells and acts as messenger controlling different functions of the body.The endocrine system is the system of various ductless glands that secrete hormones which maintain homeostasis and growth and development of the body.
Mode of Signaling
Electrical, ChemicalChemical
Chemical Messengers
Neurotransmitters e.g Serotonin, NorepinephrineHormones
Onset Time of Response of Target Cell
MillisecondRequires more time than neuronal signaling and time differs for different hormones.
The End Time of Response
Response ceases quickly after the end of neuronal signaling.The response shown by the Endocrine system stays longer.
Neuronal signaling is specific in its action.Endocrine signaling is less specific in its action.
Response to Changes in the Environment
The nervous system shows quick response to rapid changes in the environment.The endocrine system shows late response to rapid changes in the environment.
Distance Traveled
Always shortLong or short
Targeted Environment
Internal or externalInternal

What is the Nervous System?

The Nervous system is a complex organ system. The Nervous system comprises of a complex network of nerves, neurons, and glial cells. The neurons are primary cells of the nervous system. The neurons are responsible for computation and communication associated with neurons. Glial cells play a supportive role. The function of Nervous system is that it carries messages in the form of impulses from the body to the brain and spinal cord, data in messages are integrated into the brain, and after processing of data in the brain, the impulses are conducted from brain and spinal cord to body for response. The nervous system has two further subdivisions — the central nervous system CNS and peripheral nervous system PMS. The CNS comprises of brain enclosed in the cranium and spinal cord enclosed in the vertebral column. The CNS has numerous centers which are subdivided to the brain and spinal cors and are necessary for the integration of data. The PNS comprises of spinal and cranial nerves which are linked to brain and spinal cors. The PNS is named so because its location is on the periphery, beyond the central position. The PNS is subdivided into the somatic nervous system and autonomic nervous system. The somatic nervous system controls functions of skin, bones, joints, and skeletal system voluntarily. The autonomic nervous system controls functions of internal organs, smooth and cardiac muscles, and blood vessels. The Nervous system is also associated with some disorders which affect its activity; these disorders include Alzheimer’s disease, Bell’s palsy, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, etc.

What is the Endocrine System?

The endocrine system is the system of various ductless glands that secrete hormones which are chemical messengers. Ductless glands of the endocrine system are called endocrine glands. Hormones circulate in the blood to affect specific organs. The endocrine system helps to maintain the homeostasis in the body. The endocrine system develops a connection between the hypothalamus and all parts of the body which are involved in different functions like growth and development, metabolism, and reproduction. The endocrine system releases two types of hormones, steroidal hormones, and protein-based hormones. The endocrine system regulates its hormones except in case of childbirth through the feedback mechanism. The immune system also helps the endocrine system in regulating the levels of the hormones. The Endocrine system works by main endocrine glands which include the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, adrenal gland, pancreas, and gonads. Hormones of these glands act non specifically, e.g. Oxytocin in the uterus causes uterine contractions while Hormones of the endocrine system target the cell depending upon the nature of the hormone. In case of the steroidal hormone, the hormone diffuse through the cell membrane of the target cells binds to receptor protein which activates DNA segment leading to activation of the particular gene ultimately leading to the production of enzymes for different physiological functions. The water-soluble hormones bind to a protein receptor on the surface of the cell membrane. The receptor protein stimulates the production of second messengers, which help in the production of different physiological actions. The endocrine system if do not work properly then different endocrine disorders occur, e.g. in case of thyroid gland disorders are Hypothyroidism, gigantism, dwarfism

Key Differences

  1. The nervous system is composed of neurons, nerves, and glial cell, while the Endocrine system is composed of endocrine glands.
  2. The nervous system works through chemicals and nerves, whereas the Endocrine system works through chemicals.
  3. The nervous system gives response quickly; on the other hand, the Endocrine system delays in response as compared to the nervous system.
  4. The nervous system shows response to both internal and external environment change while the Endocrine system shows a response to change in the internal environment.


The main conclusion of the above discussion is that both the Nervous system and endocrine system are the body’s messenger systems and important for normal physiology of the body.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White