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Susanne Hiller-Sturmhöfel, Ph.D., is a scientific research editor that Alcohol health & research World. Andrzej Bartke, Ph.D., is professor and also chairman of physiology at southerly Illinois University college of Medicine, Carbondale, Illinois
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A plethora of hormones regulate plenty of of the body’s functions, including growth and also development, metabolism, electrolyte balances, and also reproduction. Many glands throughout the body develop hormones. The hypothalamus produces several releasing and also inhibiting hormones that act ~ above the pituitary gland, stimulating the relax of pituitary hormones. That the pituitary hormones, several act on various other glands located in assorted regions of the body, whereas various other pituitary hormone directly impact their target organs. Other hormone-producing glands transparent the body encompass the adrenal glands, i m sorry primarily produce cortisol; the gonads (i.e., ovaries and also testes), which develop sex hormones; the thyroid, which produces thyroid hormone; the parathyroid, which produces parathyroid hormone; and the pancreas, i beg your pardon produces insulin and glucagon. Plenty of of this hormones are part of regulatory hormonal cascades involving a hypothalamic hormone, one or much more pituitary hormones, and one or much more target gland hormones.

Keywords: endocrine function, hormones, hypothalamus, pituitary gland, gonad function, thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas, biochemical mechanism, biological feedback, biological regulation, hypothalamus-pituitary axis, pituitary-adrenal axis, pituitary-thyroid axis, literary works review

For the body to function properly, its various parts and also organs must interact with each various other to ensure the a consistent internal atmosphere (i.e., homeostasis) is maintained. Because that example, neither the body temperature nor the level of salts and minerals (i.e., electrolytes) in the blood have to fluctuate past preset limits. Communication among various areas of the body also is important for allowing the biology to respond appropriately to any type of changes in the internal and external environments. 2 systems help ensure communication: the concerned system and the hormonal (i.e., neuroendocrine) system. The nervous device generally allows rapid transmission (i.e., within fractions of seconds) of information between different human body regions. Conversely, hormonal communication, which counts on the production and release of hormone from assorted glands and on the move of those hormone via the bloodstream, is far better suited for situations that require much more widespread and also longer lasting regulation actions. Thus, the two interaction systems enhance each other. In addition, both solution interact: Stimuli native the nervous system can influence the relax of particular hormones and vice versa.

Generally speaking, hormones manage the growth, development, and also metabolism that the body; the electrolyte composition of bodily fluids; and reproduction. This short article provides an overview of the hormone systems affiliated in those regulation processes. The article an initial summarizes some of the simple characteristics the hormone-mediated interaction within the body, then reviews the assorted glands involved in those processes and also the significant hormones lock produce. For much more in-depth info on those hormones, the reader should consult endocrinology textbooks (e.g., Constanti et al. 1998; Wilson et al. 1998). Finally, the write-up presents miscellaneous endocrine solution in which hormones produced in number of organs cooperate to attain the wanted regulatory effects. The discussions emphasis primarily on the system responses in normal, healthy people. Because that information concerning alcohol’s effects on several of the hormone systems, the leader is described subsequent short articles in this concern of Alcohol wellness & research World.

What are Hormones?

Hormones space molecules the are developed by endocrine glands, consisting of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, adrenal glands, gonads, (i.e., testes and ovaries), thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, and pancreas (see number 1). The ax “endocrine” means that in an answer to details stimuli, the commodities of those glands are released right into the bloodstream.1 The hormones climate are brought via the blood to their target cells. Some hormones have only a few specific target cells, whereas various other hormones affect numerous cell varieties throughout the body. The target cells because that each hormone are defined by the visibility of details docking molecules (i.e., receptors) because that the hormone the are situated either on the cell surface ar or within the cell. The interaction in between the hormone and its receptor cause a cascade that biochemical reaction in the target cabinet that eventually modify the cell’s function or activity.

Mechanisms that Action

Several classes of hormone exist, including steroids, amino acid derivatives, and polypeptides and proteins. Those hormone classes differ in their general molecular frameworks (e.g., size and also chemical properties). As a an outcome of the structure differences, their mechanisms of activity (e.g., even if it is they can get in their target cells and how they modulate the task of those cells) additionally differ. Steroids, which are created by the gonads and component of the adrenal gland (i.e., the adrenal cortex), have a molecular structure comparable to the of cholesterol. The molecule can get in their target cells and also interact with receptors in the fluid that fills the cabinet (i.e., the cytoplasm) or in the cabinet nucleus. The hormone-receptor complexes then tie to details regions of the cell’s hereditary material (i.e., the DNA), in order to regulating the task of particular hormone-responsive genes.

Amino acid derivatives room modified versions of several of the building blocks that proteins. The thyroid gland and also another region of the adrenal glands (i.e., the adrenal medulla) produce this form of hormone (i.e., the amino acid derivatives). Favor steroids, amino mountain derivatives can get in the cell, wherein they connect with receptor proteins the are already associated with details DNA regions. The communication modifies the activity of the influenced genes.

Polypeptide and also protein hormones room chains that amino mountain of miscellaneous lengths (from three to number of hundred amino acids). These hormones are uncovered primarily in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and pancreas. In part instances, they are acquired from inactive precursors, or pro-hormones, which have the right to be cleaved into one or an ext active hormones. Because of their chemical structure, the polypeptide and also protein hormone cannot enter cells. Instead, they communicate with receptors on the cell surface. The interaction initiates biochemical transforms in one of two people the cell’s membrane or interior, eventually editing and enhancing the cell’s activity or function.

Regulation of Hormone Activity

To maintain the body’s homeostasis and respond appropriately to changes in the environment, hormone production and also secretion have to be strict controlled. To attain this control, numerous bodily attributes are regulated no by a single hormone however by number of hormones that manage each other (see number 2). For example, for plenty of hormone systems, the hypothalamus secretes so-called release hormones, which room transported via the blood to the pituitary gland. There, the releasing hormones induce the production and also secretion of pituitary hormones, which subsequently are transported through the blood to your target glands (e.g., the adrenal glands, gonads, or thyroid). In those glands, the interaction of the pituitary hormones through their respective target cells outcomes in the relax of the hormone that eventually influence the organs target by the hormone cascade.

Constant feedback from the target glands to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland ensures that the task of the hormone system involved remains within suitable boundaries. Thus, in most cases, negative feedback instrument exist whereby hormones released by the target glands impact the pituitary gland and/or hypothalamus (see number 2). When specific predetermined blood level of those hormones room reached, the hypothalamus and/or the pituitary ceases hormone release, thereby turning off the cascade. In some instances, a so-called short-loop feedback occurs, in i m sorry pituitary hormones straight act ago on the hypothalamus.

The sensitivity v which these an unfavorable feedback systems run (i.e., the target hormone levels the are required to revolve off hypothalamic or pituitary hormone release) can adjust at various physiological says or step of life. For example, the steady reduction in sensitivity that the hypothalamus and pituitary to negative feedback by gonadal steroid hormone plays vital role in sex-related maturation.

Although an adverse feedback is more common, part hormone solution are controlled by optimistic feedback mechanisms, in i beg your pardon a target gland hormone acts back on the hypothalamus and/or pituitary to rise the relax of hormones that stimulate the secretion of the target gland hormone. One such mechanism occurs throughout a woman’s term period: enhancing estrogen level in the blood temporary stimulate, rather than inhibit, hormone relax from the pituitary and hypothalamus, thereby additional increasing estrogen levels and also eventually leading to ovulation. Together a system requires a particular threshold level, however, in ~ which the positive feedback loop is turned off in stimulate to preserve a stable system.

Hormones created by the significant Hormone-Producing (i.e., Endocrine) Glands and also Their primary Functions

Endocrine GlandHormonePrimary Hormone Function
HypothalamusCorticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)Stimulates the pituitary to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)Stimulates the pituitary to release luteinizing hormone (LH) and also follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH)Stimulates the pituitary to relax thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH)Stimulates the relax of development hormone (GH) indigenous the pituitary
SomatostatinInhibits the release of GH native the pituitary
DopamineInhibits the relax of prolactin from the pituitary
Anterior pituitary glandACTHStimulates the relax of hormone from the adrenal cortex
LHIn women, stimulates the manufacturing of sex hormones (i.e., estrogens) in the ovaries and during ovulation; in men, stimulates testosterone manufacturing in the testes
FSHIn women, stimulates follicle development; in men, stimulates sperm production
TSHStimulates the relax of thyroid hormone
GHPromotes the body’s growth and also development
ProlactinControls milk manufacturing (i.e., lactation)
Posterior pituitary gland1VasopressinHelps control the body’s water and also electrolyte levels
OxytocinPromotes uterine contraction throughout labor and also activates milk ejection in nursing women
Adrenal cortexCortisolHelps regulate carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolism; protects versus stress
AldosteroneHelps control the body’s water and also electrolyte regulation
TestesTestosteroneStimulates development of the male reproductive organs, sperm production, and protein anabolism
OvariesEstrogen (produced by the follicle)Stimulates advancement of the woman reproductive organs
Progesterone (produced by the body luteum)Prepares uterus because that pregnancy and also mammary glands because that lactation
Thyroid glandThyroid hormone (i.e., thyroxine and triiodothyronine )Controls metabolic procedures in every cells
CalcitoninHelps regulate calcium line (i.e., lowers calcium levels in the blood)
Parathyroid glandParathyroid hormone (PTH)Helps regulate calcium metabolism (i.e., increases calcium level in the blood)
PancreasInsulinHelps regulate carbohydrate line (i.e., lowers blood sugar levels)
GlucagonHelps control carbohydrate metabolism (i.e., rises blood sugar levels)

The Hypothalamus and Its Hormones

The hypothalamus is a small region located within the mind that controls plenty of bodily functions, consisting of eating and also drinking, sex-related functions and behaviors, blood pressure and also heart rate, human body temperature maintenance, the sleep-wake cycle, and emotional says (e.g., fear, pain, anger, and pleasure). Hypothalamic hormone play pivotal roles in the regulation of numerous of those functions.

Because the hypothalamus is component of the central nervous system, the hypothalamic hormones actually are created by nerve cells (i.e., neurons). In addition, due to the fact that signals from other neurons can modulate the relax of hypothalamic hormones, the hypothalamus serves together the significant link in between the nervous and also endocrine systems. For example, the hypothalamus receives info from higher brain centers that respond come various eco-friendly signals. Consequently, hypothalamic function is affected by both the external and internal environments and also by hormone feedback. Stimuli from the external atmosphere that indirectly influence hypothalamic function include the light-dark cycle; temperature; signal from other members that the very same species; and a wide range of visual, auditory, olfactory, and also sensory stimuli. The communication in between other mind areas and also the hypothalamus, i m sorry conveys information about the interior environment, entails electrochemical signal transmission through molecules referred to as neurotransmitters (e.g., aspartate, dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, glutamate, norepinephrine, and serotonin). The complex interplay the the plot of miscellaneous neurotransmitters regulates the production and release of hormone from the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamic hormones are released right into blood vessels that affix the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland (i.e., the hypothalamic-hypophyseal portal system). Due to the fact that they normally promote or inhibit the relax of hormones from the pituitary gland, hypothalamic hormones are frequently called releasing or inhibiting hormones. The major releasing and inhibiting hormones incorporate the complying with (also see table, p. 156):

Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), i m sorry is part of the hormone device regulating carbohydrate, protein, and also fat metabolism as well as sodium and water balance in the body

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), i m sorry helps manage sexual and reproductive functions, including pregnancy and lactation (i.e., milk production)

Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), i m sorry is component of the hormone system controlling the metabolic processes of every cells and also which contributes come the hormonal regulation the lactation

Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), which is an essential component of the system fostering the organism’s growth

Somatostatin, which also affects bone and also muscle growth however has the opposite impact as that of GHRH

Dopamine, a problem that attributes primarily together a neurotransmitter but likewise has some hormonal effects, such together repressing lactation till it is needed after childbirth.

The Pituitary and Its significant Hormones

The pituitary (also sometimes dubbed the hypophysis) is a gland about the dimension of a small marble and also is situated in the mind directly listed below the hypothalamus. The pituitary gland consists of 2 parts: the anterior pituitary and the posterior pituitary.

The Anterior Pituitary

The anterior pituitary to produce several essential hormones that either wake up target glands (e.g., the adrenal glands, gonads, or thyroid gland) to create target gland hormone or directly impact target organs. The pituitary hormones include adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH); gonadotropins; thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), likewise called thyrotropin; expansion hormone (GH); and also prolactin.

The very first three that those hormones—ACTH, gonadotropins, and TSH—act on other glands. Thus, ACTH stimulates the adrenal cortex to create corticosteroid hormones—primarily cortisol—as well as tiny amounts that female and male sex hormones. The gonadotropins make up two molecules, luteinizing hormone (LH) and also follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). These two hormones regulate the production of female and also male sex hormones in the ovaries and testes and the production of the germ cells—that is, the egg cells (i.e., ova) and also sperm cells (i.e., spermatozoa). TSH stimulates the thyroid gland come produce and also release thyroid hormone. The remaining two pituitary hormones, GH and also prolactin, directly impact their target organs.

Growth Hormone

GH is the many abundant that the pituitary hormones. As the name implies, that plays a pivotal duty in controlling the body’s growth and also development. For example, the stimulates the linear development of the bones; disclosure the development of internal organs, fat (i.e., adipose) tissue, connective tissue, endocrine glands, and also muscle; and controls the breakthrough of the reproductive organs. Accordingly, the GH levels in the blood room highest during early childhood and also puberty and decrease thereafter. Nevertheless, even relatively low GH level still may be essential later in life, and also GH deficiency may contribute to some symptoms the aging.

In enhancement to its growth-promoting role, GH affect carbohydrate, protein, and also fat (i.e., lipid) metabolism. Thus, GH rises the level of the street glucose in the blood by reduce glucose absorb by muscle cells and adipose tissue and also by cultivating glucose production (i.e., gluconeogenesis) native precursor molecule in the liver. (These actions are opposite to those the the hormone insulin, i beg your pardon is disputed in the ar “The Pancreas and Its Hormones,” p. 160.) GH also enhances the uptake of amino mountain from the blood right into cells, as well as their incorporation into proteins, and stimulates the failure of lipids in adipose tissue.

To elicit these miscellaneous effects, GH convey the activities of countless target organs, including the liver, kidneys, bone, cartilage, bones muscle, and adipose cells. For several of these effects, GH acts straight on the target cells. In various other cases, however, GH acts indirect by stimulating the manufacturing of a molecule referred to as insulin-like development factor 1 (IGF-1) in the liver and also kidneys. The blood then transports IGF-1 come the target organs, whereby it binding to details receptors ~ above the cells. This communication then may cause the increased DNA production and also cell department that underlie the expansion process.

Two hypothalamic hormones regulate GH release: (1) GHRH, which stimulates GH release, and also (2) somatostatin, i m sorry inhibits GH release. This regulatory mechanism additionally involves a short-loop feedback component, through which GH acts upon the hypothalamus to wake up somatostatin release. In addition, GH relax is magnified by stress, such as low blood sugar levels (i.e., hypoglycemia) or severe exercise, and by the onset of deep sleep.

Acute and also chronic alcohol intake have been presented to reduce the levels of GH and also IGF-1 in the blood. Both effects have to be observed in animals as well as in humans. Acute alcohol administration also reduce GH cheap in solution to other stimuli that usually enhance the hormone’s release. Those deleterious results of alcohol may be specifically harmful come adolescents, who call for GH for normal development and puberty. (For more information on alcohol’s impacts on puberty and also growth, view the short article by Dees and also colleagues, pp. 165–169.)


Together with other hormones, prolactin plays a central role in the breakthrough of the woman breast and also in the initiation and also maintenance of lactation after ~ childbirth. Prolactin’s role in men, however, is no well understood, although excessive prolactin release can lead to reduced sex journey (i.e., libido) and impotence. Numerous factors control prolactin release from the anterior pituitary. For example, prolactin is exit in increasing quantities in solution to the rise in estrogen level in the blood the occurs during pregnancy. In parenting women, prolactin is exit in solution to suckling by the infant. Several releasing and also inhibitory determinants from the hypothalamus additionally control prolactin release. The most crucial of those determinants is dopamine, which has actually an inhibitory effect.

Alcohol intake by parenting women deserve to influence lactation both through its effects on the relax of prolactin and also oxytocin (see the following section) and also through its effects on the milk-producing (i.e., mammary) glands and also the composition of the milk. (For an ext information on alcohol’s effects on lactation, check out the article by Heil and Subramanian, pp. 178–184.)

The Posterior Pituitary

The posterior pituitary walk not create its own hormones; instead, the stores 2 hormones—vasopressin and oxytocin—that are developed by neurons in the hypothalamus. Both hormones collect at the end of the neurons, i beg your pardon are situated in the hypothalamus and extend to the posterior pituitary.

Vasopressin, likewise called arginine vasopressin (AVP), plays an essential role in the body’s water and also electrolyte economy. Thus, AVP release promotes the reabsorption of water from the urine in the kidneys. Through this mechanism, the human body reduces to pee volume and conserves water. AVP relax from the pituitary is regulated by the concentration of sodium in the blood and also by blood volume and blood pressure. Because that example, high blood pressure or raised blood volume outcomes in the inhibition the AVP release. Consequently, much more water is released v the urine, and also both blood pressure and blood volume space reduced. Alcohol also has been presented to inhibit AVP release. Conversely, certain other drugs (e.g., nicotine and also morphine) boost AVP release, as perform severe pain, fear, nausea, and general anesthesia, thereby resulting in lower urine production and also water retention.

Oxytocin, the second hormone stored in the posterior pituitary, stimulates the contractions that the uterus throughout childbirth. In education women, the hormone activates milk ejection in response to suckling by the child (i.e., the so-called let-down reflex).

The Adrenal Glands and also Their Hormones

The adrenal glands are small structures situated on top of the kidneys. Structurally, they consist that an external layer (i.e., the cortex) and an inner class (i.e., the medulla). The adrenal cortex produces many hormones, generally corticosteroids (i.e., glucocorticoids and also mineralocorticoids). The cortex is additionally the resource of small amounts that sex hormones; those amounts, however, room insignificant contrasted with the quantities normally created by the ovaries and testes. The adrenal medulla generates two substances—adrenaline and also noradrenaline—that space released as component of the fight-or-flight response to assorted stress factors.

The primary glucocorticoid in human beings is cortisol (also referred to as hydro-cortisone), i m sorry helps control carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolism. For example, cortisol rises glucose level in the blood by stimulating gluconeogenesis in the liver and promotes the formation of glycogen (i.e., a molecule the serves as the storage form of glucose) in the liver. Cortisol also reduces glucose uptake into muscle and adipose tissue, thereby opposing the effects of insulin. Furthermore, in various tissues, cortisol disclosure protein and lipid failure into products (i.e., amino acids and glycerol, respectively) that have the right to be used for gluconeogenesis.

In addition to those metabolic activities, cortisol appears to protect the body against the deleterious results of assorted stress factors, including acute trauma, significant surgery, severe infections, pain, blood loss, hypoglycemia, and also emotional stress. Every one of these stress determinants lead come drastic boosts in the cortisol level in the blood. For people in whom cortisol levels cannot rise (e.g., because they had their adrenal glands removed), also mild stress deserve to be fatal. Finally, high doses of cortisol and other corticosteroids can be provided medically to suppress organization inflammation in solution to injuries and to reduce the immune solution to international molecules.

The primary mineralocorticoid in human beings is aldosterone, which also helps regulate the body’s water and also electrolyte balance. The principal features are to maintain sodium and to excrete potassium native the body. For example, aldosterone disclosure the reabsorption of sodium in the kidney, in order to reducing water excretion and also increasing blood volume. Similarly, aldosterone decreases the ratio of salt to potassium concentration in sweat and saliva, thereby preventing sodium ns via those routes. The effect can it is in highly valuable in warm climates, where much sweating occurs.

In comparison to the glucocorticoids, pituitary, or hypothalamic, hormones perform not regulate aldosterone release. Instead, it is managed primarily by another hormone system, the reninangiotensin system, which likewise controls kidney function. In addition, the level of sodium and potassium in the blood influence aldosterone levels.

The Gonads and also Their Hormones

The gonads (i.e., the ovaries and also testes) offer two significant functions. First, they develop the germ cell (i.e., ova in the ovaries and also spermatozoa in the testes). Second, the gonads synthesize steroid sex hormones the are essential for the advance and function of both female and male reproductive organs and an additional sex features (e.g., the adult circulation of body hair, such together facial hair in men) and also for pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation. Three types of sex hormones exist; every with various functions: (1) estrogens (e.g., estradiol), i beg your pardon exert feminizing effects; (2) progestogens (e.g., progesterone), which impact the uterus in ready for and also during pregnancy; and (3) androgens (e.g., testosterone), which exert masculinizing effects. In enhancement to the reproductive functions, sex hormone play countless essential duties throughout the body. Because that example, they impact the line of carbohydrates and also lipids, the cardiovascular system, and bone growth and also development.


The significant estrogen is estradiol, which, in addition to little amounts the estrone and also estriol, is developed primarily in the ovaries. Various other production web page of estrogens include the corpus luteum,2 the placenta, and also the adrenal glands. In men and also postmenopausal women, many estrogens current in the circulation are obtained from the switch of testicular, adrenal, and ovarian androgens. The conversion occurs in peripheral tissues, primarily adipose tissue and also skin.

The main function of estrogens is to coordinate the normal advance and functioning of the woman genitalia and also breasts. During puberty, estrogens encourage the development of the uterus, breasts, and also vagina; determine the sample of fat deposition and distribution in the body that results in the usual female shape; control the pubertal development spurt and cessation of expansion at adult height; and control the advancement of an additional sexual characteristics. In adult women, the primary attributes of estrogens incorporate regulating the term cycle, contributing come the hormonal regulation the pregnancy and lactation, and also maintaining mrs libido. (For an ext information top top the expression cycle and alcohol’s effects on it, watch the short article by Dees and also colleagues, pp. 165–169. For much more information ~ above alcohol’s results on the arising fetus, view the article by Gabriel and also colleagues, pp. 170–177.)

During menopause, estrogen manufacturing in the ovaries ceases. The resulting reduction in estrogen levels leader to symptoms such as warm flashes, sweating, pounding of the heart (i.e., palpitations), increased irritability, anxiety, depression, and brittle skeleton (i.e., osteoporosis). The management of estrogens (i.e., hormone replacement therapy) have the right to alleviate those symptoms and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and also coronary heart disease in postmenopausal women. In ~ the exact same time, however, hormone replacement treatment may rise the threat of certain species of cancer (e.g., chest cancer and also uterine cancer). Alcohol intake has been presented to boost estrogen levels in the blood and also urine, even in premenopausal women that drink 2 drinks or much less per job (Reichman et al. 1993) and also in postmenopausal women who drink much less than one drink every day (Gavaler and Van Thiel 1992). These findings imply that moderate alcohol intake may aid prevent osteoporosis and coronary heart condition in postmenopausal women. Various other studies, however, have actually detected no continuous association in between alchol consumption and also increased estrogen levels (Dorgan et al. 1994; Purohit 1998). (For much more information top top the impacts of alcohol top top postmenopausal women, view the short articles by Longnecker and also Tseng, pp. 185–189, and Gavaler, pp. 220–227.)


The ovaries produce progestogens during a certain phase the the term cycle and in the placenta for many of pregnancy. Progestogens reason changes in the uterine lining in preparation for pregnancy and—together through estrogens—stimulate the advancement of the mammary glands in the breasts in ready for lactation. The major progestogen is progesterone.


The major androgenic steroid is testosterone, which is secreted generally from the testes yet also, in tiny amounts, from the adrenal glands (both in men and also women) and also from the ovaries. That main duty is to stimulate the advancement and development of the masculine genital tract. In addition, testosterone has solid protein anabolic activities—that is, it promotes protein generation, which leads to raised muscle mass. The particular functions that testosterone differ during different developmental stages, together follows:

In the fetus, testosterone mainly ensures the advance of the internal and also external male genitalia

During puberty, testosterone disclosure the development of the masculine sex organs and also is responsible for other male developmental characteristics, such together the pubertal expansion spurt and eventual cessation of expansion at adult height; deepening of the voice; development of facial, pubic, axillary, and body hair; and increase in muscularity and also strength

In the adult male, testosterone generally serves to preserve masculinity, libido, and also sexual potency and also regulate sperm production. Testosterone levels decrease slightly with age, back the drop is no as drastic as the palliation in estrogen levels in women throughout menopause. (For information on alcohol’s effects on male reproduction, view the post by Emanuele and Emanuele, pp.195–201.)

The Thyroid and also Its Hormones

The thyroid gland, which is composed of two lobes, is located in front of the windpipe (i.e., trachea), just listed below the voice crate (i.e., larynx). The gland produces 2 structurally associated hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), that room iodinated derivatives of the amino acid tyrosine. Both hormones are jointly referred to as “thyroid hormone.” T4 constitutes around 90 percent of the hormone created in the thyroid gland. However, T3 is a much more active hormone, and most that the T4 created by the thyroid is converted into T3 in the liver and kidneys.

Thyroid hormone in basic serves to increase the metabolism of nearly all human body tissues. For example, thyroid hormone stimulates the production of details proteins affiliated in warm generation in the body, a function that is essential for keeping body temperature in cold climates. Moreover, thyroid hormone promotes several various other metabolic processes including carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids that assist generate the power required because that the body’s functions. In addition to those metabolic effects, thyroid hormone plays an essential role in the breakthrough of the main nervous system during late fetal and also early postnatal developmental stages. Furthermore, thyroid hormone exerts one effect similar to that of GH on typical bone growth and maturation. Finally, thyroid hormone is compelled for the normal breakthrough of teeth, skin, and hair follicles and for the work of the nervous, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems.

In addition to thyroid hormone, particular cells (i.e., parafollicular C cells) in the thyroid gland create calcitonin, a hormone that helps keep normal calcium level in the blood. Special, calcitonin lowers calcium levels in the blood by reduce the relax of calcium native the bones; inhibiting the consistent erosion of skeleton (i.e., bone resorption), which additionally releases calcium; and also inhibiting the reabsorption that calcium in the kidneys. Those results are opposite to those of parathyroid hormone (PTH), i m sorry is questioned in the adhering to section.

The Parathyroid Glands and Their Hormones

The parathyroid glands are 4 pea-sized bodies situated behind the thyroid gland that develop PTH. This hormone increases calcium level in the blood, helping to preserve bone quality and an enough supply of calcium, i m sorry is required for numerous functions throughout the human body (e.g., muscle movement and also signal transmission within cells). Specifically, PTH causes reabsorption of calcium from and also excretion that phosphate in the urine. PTH also promotes the relax of save calcium indigenous the bones as well as bone resorption, both the which rise calcium levels in the blood. Finally, PTH stimulates the absorb of calcium from the food in the gastrointestinal tract. Regular with PTH’s central role in calcium metabolism, the relax of this hormone is not controlled by pituitary hormones but by the calcium levels in the blood. Thus, low calcium levels stimulate PTH release, whereas high calcium levels suppress it.

Many that the features of PTH need or are assisted in by a substance dubbed 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol, a derivative of vitamin D. In addition, countless other hormones are connected in regulation the body’s calcium levels and also bone metabolism, including estrogens, glucocorticoids, and growth hormone. (For much more information top top the hormonal manage of bone and also calcium metabolism and on alcohol’s impacts on those systems, see the write-up by Sampson, pp. 190–194.)

The Pancreas and Its Hormones

The kidnize is situated in the abdomen, behind the stomach, and also serves two distinctly different functions. First, it acts together an exocrine organ, because the bulk of pancreatic cells develop various digestive enzymes that room secreted right into the gut and also which are important for the efficient digestion of food. Second, the pancreas serves together an endocrine organ, because certain cell clusters (i.e., the Islets of Langerhans) produce two hormones—insulin and also glucagon—that room released into the blood and play pivotal functions in blood glucose regulation.


Insulin is created in the beta cell of the Islets of Langerhans. Its main purpose is to reduced blood glucose levels; in fact, insulin is the just blood sugar-lowering hormone in the body. To this end, insulin disclosure the development of storage develops of energy (e.g., glycogen, proteins, and lipids) and also suppresses the break down of those stored nutrients. Accordingly, the target organs of insulin are mainly those the are dedicated for energy storage, such as the liver, muscles, and adipose tissue. Specifically, insulin has the following metabolic effects:

Promotes glucose uptake into cells and also its conversion into glycogen, stimulates the failure of glucose, and also inhibits gluconeogenesis

Stimulates the carry of amino acids right into cells and protein synthesis in muscle cells, in order to lowering the levels of amino acids easily accessible for gluconeogenesis in the liver

Increases fat synthetic in the liver and also adipose tissue, thereby lowering the levels of glycerol, which likewise can offer as a beginning material for gluconeogenesis.

The release of insulin is managed by miscellaneous factors, consisting of blood glucose levels; various other islet hormone (e.g., glucagon); and, indirectly, various other hormones that alter blood glucose levels (e.g., GH, glucocorticoids, and also thyroid hormone).


The 2nd blood-sugar–regulating pancreatic hormone is glucagon, which is developed in the alpha cell of the Islets of Langerhans. Glucagon rises blood glucose levels; accordingly, its main actions generally are opposite come those that insulin. Because that example, glucagon boosts glycogen malfunction and gluconeogenesis in the liver and also the breakdown of lipids and proteins. The relax of glucagon is regulation by many of the same components as is insulin’s release, but sometimes with the the contrary effect. Thus, boost in blood glucose level stimulates insulin release but inhibits glucagon release.

A finely tuned balance between the activities of insulin and glucagon is essential for keeping blood street levels. Accordingly, disturbances of that balance, such together an insulin deficiency or an inability of the body to answers adequately come insulin, result in significant disorders, such as diabetes mellitus. (For more information on diabetes and on alcohol’s impacts on insulin, glucagon, and also the management of diabetes, see the write-up by Emanuele and also colleagues, pp. 211–219.)

Hormone Systems

As this post has indicated in explicate the assorted endocrine glands and their hormones, part hormones are regulated directly through the metabolic pathways that they influence. For example, blood sugar levels directly control insulin and glucagon relax by the pancreas, and also calcium levels in the blood control PTH release. Conversely, plenty of hormones produced by target glands are regulated through pituitary hormones, which in turn are regulated by hypothalamic hormones. Examples of together regulatory hormone cascades include the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroidal (HPT) axis, which are described briefly in the adhering to sections (see number 3, p.162).

Schematic representation of the HPA, HPG, and also HPT axes. Because that each system, the hypothalamus secretes releasing hormone (i.e., CRH, GnRH, and also TRH) that act on the pituitary gland. In solution to those stimuli, the pituitary gland release ACTH, gonadotropins (i.e., LH and FSH), or TSH. ACTH activates the adrenal glands to release cortisol, which induces metabolic effects. Cortisol also acts back on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland by negative feedback. LH and FSH in women stimulate the ovaries to develop estrogens and progesterone. Depending upon the step of the menstrual cycle, those hormones act back on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in either a stimulatory or inhibitory manner. In men, LH stimulates the testes to relax testosterone, i m sorry feeds back on the hypothalamus and also pituitary. Finally, TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to produce the thyroid hormones T3 and also T4, both of which boost cell metabolism as well as feed back on the hypothalamus and also pituitary.

NOTE: = stimulates; = inhibits; ACTH = adrenocorticotropic hormone; CRH = corticotropin-releasing hormone; FSH = follicle-stimulating hormone; GnRH = gonadotropin-releasing hormone; HPA = hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal; HPG = hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal; HPT = hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid; LH = luteinizing hormone; T3 = triiodothyronine; T4 = thyroxine; TRH = thyrotropin-releasing hormone; TSH = thyroid-stimulating hormone.

The HPA Axis

Activation that the HPA axis, which regulates various metabolic functions, is initiated with the release of CRH native the hypothalamus. This release occurs in solution to assorted stimuli, including virtually any kind of physics or emotional stress; during the typical sleep-wake cycle; and also in solution to particular neurotransmitters. CRH climate stimulates the anterior pituitary to produce ACTH. (In addition to CRH, AVP indigenous the hypothalamus likewise can stimulate ACTH release). ACTH, in turn, activates adrenal hormone production, mostly of cortisol, which mediates the certain physiological results of this hormone system.

The task of the HPA axis is regulation by an unfavorable feedback mechanisms. Thus, increased cortisol level repress CRH relax by the hypothalamus and also ACTH release by the pituitary. In addition, ACTH can directly inhibit hypothalamic CRH release.

Any disturbances in the HPA axis can an outcome in serious clinical consequences. For example, insufficient hormone production by the adrenal cortex causes Addison’s disease, i beg your pardon is identified by muscle weakness, dehydration, lose of appetite (i.e., anorexia), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, abdominal muscle pain, tiredness, and malaise. Patients with this an illness exhibit short levels that plasma cortisol but high level of ACTH. The boost in ACTH levels represents a vain effort by the pituitary to stimulate hormone production in the unresponsive adrenal cortex.

Equally deleterious is the too much glucocorticoid production that results from excess ACTH relax (i.e., Cushing’s syndrome). Those patients suffer symptoms such as muscle weakness and also wasting, ago pain from osteoporosis, a propensity to bruise easily, redistribution of human body fat (i.e., a rounded “moon” face, influential abdomen, and thin legs), and also various emotional disturbances. Because of the negative feedback mechanism of the HPA axis, the patient’s cortisol levels are high and the ACTH levels room low.

Both acute and chronic alcohol usage have been displayed to activate the HPA axis, and some drinkers construct a so-called pseudo-Cushing’s syndrome the disappears v abstinence (Veldman and Meinders 1996; Emanuele and Emanuele 1997). (For an ext information ~ above alcohol’s result on the HPA axis and its relationship to alcohol craving, watch the short article by Gianoulakis, pp. 202–210.)

The HPG Axis

In both men and women, the HPG axis is the hormone mechanism that controls the release of sex hormones. In both genders, the mechanism is caused by GnRH, which is released regularly in quick bursts native the hypothalamus. GnRH climate stimulates the relax of FSH and also LH indigenous the anterior pituitary.

In men, LH stimulates particular cells in the testes (i.e., Leydig cells) to release testosterone. FSH and testosterone are key regulators the another collection of testicular cell (i.e., Sertoli cells), i m sorry support and nourish the sperm cells throughout their maturation. The HPG axis in males is regulated with a variety of factors. For example, testosterone is part of a an unfavorable feedback system that inhibits GnRH relax by the hypothalamus and also LH relax by the pituitary. In addition, the Sertoli cell secrete a substance dubbed inhibin, which stays clear of FSH release from the pituitary. Finally, the Leydig cell and, to a lesser extent, the Sertoli cells create a substance called activin, i m sorry stimulates FSH secretion and thus has actually the opposite impacts of inhibin.

In women, throughout the term cycle, LH and FSH stimulate the ovarian follicle that consists of the maturing egg to develop estradiol. After ovulation has occurred, LH likewise promotes production of progesterone and also estradiol by the corpus luteum. Both hormones get involved in a an unfavorable feedback mechanism through most of the menstrual cycle, suppressing GnRH relax from the hypothalamus and LH relax from the pituitary. Shortly before ovulation, however, a hopeful feedback mechanism is activated by which estradiol actually improves LH release from the pituitary. The result surge in LH levels ultimately leads come ovulation, the formation of the corpus luteum, and also progesterone release. Progesterone exerts a an adverse feedback on LH and also FSH release, bring about LH levels to decline again. In enhancement to those mechanisms, FSH release from the pituitary is regulation by inhibin, a substance developed by specific cells in the ovarian follicle.

Both acute and chronic alcohol usage can interfere v the typical functioning the the HPG axis, resulting in lessened fertility or also infertility in both men and women and in term disturbances in women. (For an ext information top top alcohol’s effects on the HPG axis in women and also men, check out the write-ups by Dees and also colleagues, pp. 165–169, and by Emanuele and also Emanuele, pp. 195–201.)

The HPT Axis

The hormone that consist of the HPT axis manage the metabolic procedures of every cells in the body and are therefore crucial for the organism to duty normally. The secretion of TRH indigenous the hypothalamus activates the HPT axis. After getting to the pituitary, TRH stimulates the relax of TSH, which consequently promotes the production and release the T4 and T3 by the thyroid gland. Negative feed-back impacts of T4 and also T3 ~ above both the hypothalamus and the pituitary control the HPT system. (For a an introduction of alcohol’s effects on the HPT axis, see sidebar, p. 163.)

One of the important hormonal equipment regulating normal body work is the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis, i m sorry controls the metabolism of all cells. As with other hormone systems, alcohol intake under certain conditions deserve to modify the release of hormones affiliated in this axis. In healthy and balanced nonalcoholics, alcohol usage does not show up to induce any significant changes in the HPT axis (Emanuele and Emanuele 1997). Whereas some impacts of alcohol on the HPT axis have actually been observed in alcoholics. The results differ depending upon the drinking standing of the alcoholics studied. In alcoholics undergoing withdrawal, baseline level of thyroid hormone (i.e., T3 and T4) in the blood differ just minimally indigenous those in nonalcoholics. The capability of hypothalamic thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) come activate the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) indigenous the pituitary, however, is impaired in these alcoholics (Emanuele and Emanuele 1997). This “blunting” effect may result from alcohol’s influence on the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine developed in the hypothalamus plot not only as a neurotransmitter but additionally as a hormone in that it inhibits the relax of both TSH and also prolactin native the pituitary. Alcohol has been displayed to boost dopaminergic activity and thereby may suppress the TSH an answer to TRH. This hypothesis is sustained by the fact that prolactin release in response to TRH likewise is blunted in alcoholics undergoing withdrawal.

Alcohol’s results on the HPT axis are also more complex in abstinent alcoholics (Garbutt et al. 1995). In those people, the baseline level of T3 and sometimes T4 are lower than in nonalcoholics. The is unclear, however, if this readjust represents a straight effect of irreversible alcohol usage or results from co-occurring alcohol-related illnesses, since thyroid hormone levels space often lessened in patients v acute or chronic non-thyroid–related illnesses, such together sepsis, burns, or significant trauma. In addition to the diminished thyroid hormone levels, however, the TSH an answer to TRH stays blunted in abstinent alcoholics, conversely, the prolactin an answer to TRH has actually returned to typical levels. This observation indicates that a variable other 보다 dopamine likely contributes to this effect, although the exact mechanisms are unknown.

Finally, part intriguing findings have argued that abnormal responses of the HPT axis may represent a marker for a person’s vulnerability come alcoholism. Thus, some civilization who space at high threat for developing alcoholism, such together nonalcoholic boy of alcoholic fathers, tend to exhibition a blunted TSH response to TRH (Emanuele and Emanuele 1997). These monitorings still require further investigation, however, for researcher to totally understand their significance.

—Susanne Hiller-Sturmhöfel and also Andrzej Bartke


The neuroendocrine system is a highly facility and tightly controlled network the hormones released by endocrine glands throughout the body. The levels of few of the hormones are regulated in a fairly straightforward manner by the end commodities that castle influence. Thus, blood sugar levels mostly regulate insulin and glucagon relax by the pancreas. Other hormones (e.g., those the the HPA, HPG, and also HPT axes) are components of hormone cascades whose activities are managed through elaborate feedback mechanisms. In addition, many indirect interactions exist between the various hormone solution governing body functioning. Because that example, hormones such together GH and also thyroid hormone, v their impacts on cellular metabolism, may modify blood sugar levels and, accordingly, insulin release. Similarly, alcohol’s impacts on one hormone mechanism may have actually indirect after-effects for other systems, thereby contributing come alcohol’s impacts on the functioning of practically every organ in the body. That is vital to save this interconnectedness the neuroendocrine systems in psychic when analyzing alcohol’s impact on assorted hormones, i m sorry are explained in the remaining short articles in this issue.

1Conversely, exocrine glands (e.g., sweat glands and also salivary glands) relax their secretions come the external of the body (e.g., sweat) or into a hollow room that is open up to the outside (e.g., saliva released into the mouth).

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2The corpus luteum is a group of cells acquired from the follicle that releases the ovum during a certain menstrual cycle.