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

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

For the human body to duty properly, its miscellaneous parts and also organs must communicate with each other to ensure that a consistent internal setting (i.e., homeostasis) is maintained. Because that example, no the human body temperature nor the levels of salts and minerals (i.e., electrolytes) in the blood should fluctuate past preset limits. Communication amongst various areas of the body also is vital for allowing the biology to respond appropriately to any changes in the internal and external environments. 2 systems aid ensure communication: the nervous system and the hormonal (i.e., neuroendocrine) system. The nervous mechanism generally allows rapid transmission (i.e., within fractions that seconds) of information between different human body regions. Conversely, hormonal communication, which depends on the production and release of hormone from miscellaneous glands and also on the carry of those hormone via the bloodstream, is better suited for cases that require more widespread and also longer lasting regulatory actions. Thus, the two interaction systems complement each other. In addition, both equipment interact: Stimuli native the worried system deserve to influence the relax of particular hormones and vice versa.

Generally speaking, hormones regulate the growth, development, and metabolism the the body; the electrolyte ingredient of bodily fluids; and reproduction. This write-up provides an overview of the hormone systems affiliated in those regulation processes. The article first summarizes several of the an easy characteristics of hormone-mediated interaction within the body, then reviews the various glands affiliated in those processes and also the major hormones lock produce. For an ext in-depth info on those hormones, the reader have to consult endocrinology textbooks (e.g., Constanti et al. 1998; Wilson et al. 1998). Finally, the article presents miscellaneous endocrine systems in i m sorry hormones created in numerous organs cooperate to accomplish the preferred regulatory effects. The discussions focus primarily top top the mechanism responses in normal, healthy people. For information regarding alcohol’s results on few of the hormone systems, the leader is referred to subsequent write-ups in this worry of Alcohol health and wellness & research study World.

What space Hormones?

Hormones room molecules the are developed by endocrine glands, including 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 response to particular stimuli, the commodities of those glands room released right into the bloodstream.1 The hormones then are brought via the blood to your target cells. Part hormones have actually only a couple of specific target cells, whereas other hormones impact numerous cell species throughout the body. The target cells for each hormone are defined by the presence of details docking molecule (i.e., receptors) for the hormone that are located either top top the cell surface or inside the cell. The interaction between the hormone and its receptor root cause a cascade of biochemical reaction in the target cell that eventually modify the cell’s function or activity.

Mechanisms that Action

Several classes of hormones exist, including steroids, amino acid derivatives, and also polypeptides and proteins. Those hormone classes differ in their basic molecular structures (e.g., size and chemical properties). Together a result of the structural differences, your mechanisms of activity (e.g., whether they can get in their target cells and how they modulate the task of those cells) additionally differ. Steroids, i m sorry are developed by the gonads and component of the adrenal gland (i.e., the adrenal cortex), have actually a molecular structure similar to that of cholesterol. The molecules can enter their target cells and also interact with receptors in the fluid that fills the cabinet (i.e., the cytoplasm) or in the cell nucleus. The hormone-receptor complexes then bind to specific regions of the cell’s genetic material (i.e., the DNA), thereby regulating the task of details hormone-responsive genes.

Amino mountain derivatives space modified execution of few of the building blocks the 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). Like steroids, amino mountain derivatives can enter the cell, wherein they connect with receptor proteins that are currently associated with details DNA regions. The interaction modifies the task of the influenced genes.

Polypeptide and protein hormones are chains the amino acids of miscellaneous lengths (from three to numerous hundred amino acids). This hormones are uncovered primarily in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and also pancreas. In part instances, lock are obtained from inactive precursors, or pro-hormones, which deserve to be cleaved right into one or an ext active hormones. Due to the fact that of their chemical structure, the polypeptide and also protein hormones cannot go into cells. Instead, they connect with receptors on the cell surface. The interaction initiates biochemical changes in one of two people the cell’s membrane or interior, eventually modifying the cell’s task or function.

Regulation the Hormone Activity

To keep the body’s homeostasis and also respond accordingly to alters in the environment, hormone production and secretion must be strictly controlled. To achieve this control, many bodily attributes are regulated no by a solitary hormone however by several hormones that regulate each various other (see figure 2). For example, for plenty of hormone systems, the hypothalamus secretes so-called releasing hormones, which room transported via the blood to the pituitary gland. There, the releasing hormone induce the production and secretion that pituitary hormones, which consequently are transported by the blood to their target glands (e.g., the adrenal glands, gonads, or thyroid). In those glands, the interaction of the pituitary hormones v their particular target cells outcomes in the relax of the hormones that ultimately influence the organs targeted by the hormone cascade.

Constant feedback native the target glands to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland ensures the the activity of the hormone system affiliated remains within appropriate boundaries. Thus, in many cases, an unfavorable feedback mechanisms exist whereby hormones released by the target glands impact the pituitary gland and/or hypothalamus (see number 2). When specific predetermined blood levels of those hormones room reached, the hypothalamus and/or the pituitary ceases hormone release, thereby transforming off the cascade. In some instances, a so-called short-loop feedback occurs, in i m sorry pituitary hormones directly act back on the hypothalamus.

The sensitivity through which these negative feedback systems run (i.e., the target hormone levels that are compelled to revolve off hypothalamic or pituitary hormone release) can adjust at various physiological states or step of life. For example, the steady reduction in sensitivity the the hypothalamus and also pituitary to negative feedback by gonadal steroid hormones plays crucial role in sexual maturation.

Although an unfavorable feedback is an ext common, part hormone systems are regulated by optimistic feedback mechanisms, in which a target gland hormone acts earlier on the hypothalamus and/or pituitary to boost the relax of hormones that stimulate the secretion of the target gland hormone. One such system occurs during a woman’s menstrual period: boosting estrogen level in the blood temporarily stimulate, quite than inhibit, hormone relax from the pituitary and hypothalamus, thereby further increasing estrogen levels and eventually causing ovulation. Together a device requires a specific threshold level, however, in ~ which the positive feedback loop is turned off in bespeak to keep a stable system.

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

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

The Hypothalamus and also Its Hormones

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

Because the hypothalamus is component of the central nervous system, the hypothalamic hormones in reality are developed by nerve cell (i.e., neurons). In addition, since signals from other neurons have the right to modulate the release of hypothalamic hormones, the hypothalamus serves as the significant link in between the nervous and endocrine systems. For example, the hypothalamus receives details from higher mind centers the respond come various eco-friendly signals. Consequently, hypothalamic function is influenced by both the external and also internal environments and also by hormone feedback. Stimuli indigenous the external environment that indirectly influence hypothalamic duty include the light-dark cycle; temperature; signal from other members the the exact same species; and a wide selection of visual, auditory, olfactory, and also sensory stimuli. The communication in between other mind areas and also the hypothalamus, i beg your pardon conveys information around the interior environment, entails electrochemical signal transmission v molecules dubbed neurotransmitters (e.g., aspartate, dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, glutamate, norepinephrine, and serotonin). The complex interplay of the action of various neurotransmitters regulates the production and release of hormone from the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamic hormones room released into blood ship that connect 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 hormone from the pituitary gland, hypothalamic hormone are generally called releasing or inhibiting hormones. The significant releasing and also inhibiting hormones encompass the complying with (also see table, p. 156):

Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which is component of the hormone device regulating carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism and sodium and water balance in the body

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), i beg your pardon helps manage sexual and reproductive functions, including pregnancy and also lactation (i.e., milk production)

Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), which is component of the hormone system regulating the metabolic procedures of every cells and also which contributes come the hormone regulation the lactation

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

Somatostatin, which likewise affects bone and also muscle growth but has the opposite effect as the of GHRH

Dopamine, a problem that features primarily together a neurotransmitter but additionally has some hormonal effects, such together repressing lactation till it is essential after childbirth.

The Pituitary and Its major Hormones

The pituitary (also sometimes referred to as the hypophysis) is a gland about the size of a little marble and also is located in the mind directly listed below the hypothalamus. The pituitary gland consists of two parts: the anterior pituitary and also the posterior pituitary.

The Anterior Pituitary

The anterior pituitary produces several necessary hormones the either wake up target glands (e.g., the adrenal glands, gonads, or thyroid gland) to produce target gland hormone or directly affect target organs. The pituitary hormones encompass adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH); gonadotropins; thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), also called thyrotropin; development hormone (GH); and prolactin.

The an initial three of those hormones—ACTH, gonadotropins, and also TSH—act on various other glands. Thus, ACTH stimulates the adrenal cortex to create corticosteroid hormones—primarily cortisol—as well as little amounts of female and male sex hormones. The gonadotropins comprise two molecules, luteinizing hormone (LH) and also follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). These 2 hormones manage the production of female and male sex hormone in the ovaries and also testes and also the production of the germ cells—that is, the egg cell (i.e., ova) and sperm cell (i.e., spermatozoa). TSH stimulates the thyroid gland come produce and release thyroid hormone. The staying two pituitary hormones, GH and also prolactin, directly impact their target organs.

Growth Hormone

GH is the most abundant of the pituitary hormones. As the surname implies, it plays a pivotal role in controlling the body’s growth and development. Because that example, the stimulates the linear development of the bones; promotes the growth of internal organs, fat (i.e., adipose) tissue, connective tissue, endocrine glands, and also muscle; and also controls the development of the reproductive organs. Accordingly, the GH levels in the blood are highest throughout early childhood and also puberty and decrease thereafter. Nevertheless, even reasonably low GH levels still may be important later in life, and GH deficiency may add to some symptoms of aging.

In addition to the growth-promoting role, GH affect carbohydrate, protein, and also fat (i.e., lipid) metabolism. Thus, GH boosts the levels of the street glucose in the blood by to reduce glucose absorb by muscle cells and also adipose tissue and by fostering glucose manufacturing (i.e., gluconeogenesis) from precursor molecules in the liver. (These actions space opposite come those of the hormone insulin, i m sorry is discussed in the section “The Pancreas and Its Hormones,” p. 160.) GH additionally enhances the absorb of amino acids from the blood right into cells, and their incorporation right into proteins, and also stimulates the failure of lipids in adipose tissue.

To elicit these miscellaneous effects, GH mediate the activities of numerous target organs, consisting of the liver, kidneys, bone, cartilage, bones muscle, and also adipose cells. For few of these effects, GH acts directly on the target cells. In various other cases, however, GH acts indirectly by stimulating the production of a molecule called insulin-like expansion factor 1 (IGF-1) in the liver and kidneys. The blood climate transports IGF-1 to the target organs, where it binding to specific receptors top top the cells. This interaction then may cause the enhanced DNA production and also cell department that underlie the growth process.

Two hypothalamic hormones regulate GH release: (1) GHRH, i beg your pardon stimulates GH release, and (2) somatostatin, i m sorry inhibits GH release. This regulatory mechanism also involves a short-loop feedback component, by which GH acts upon the hypothalamus to wake up somatostatin release. In addition, GH release is intensified by stress, such together low blood street levels (i.e., hypoglycemia) or major exercise, and also by the beginning of deep sleep.

Acute and also chronic alcohol intake have been shown to minimize the levels of GH and IGF-1 in the blood. Both results have to be observed in animals and also in humans. Acute alcohol administration also reduces GH cheap in solution to other stimuli that normally enhance the hormone’s release. Those deleterious results of alcohol may be specifically harmful come adolescents, who call for GH because that normal advance and puberty. (For an ext information top top alcohol’s impacts on puberty and also growth, watch the write-up by Dees and also colleagues, pp. 165–169.)


Together with other hormones, prolactin dram a central role in the advancement of the mrs breast and in the initiation and also maintenance that lactation after childbirth. Prolactin’s role in men, however, is no well understood, although excessive prolactin release deserve to lead to decreased sex journey (i.e., libido) and also impotence. Number of factors manage prolactin release from the anterior pituitary. For example, prolactin is released in increasing quantities in solution to the increase in estrogen level in the blood the occurs throughout pregnancy. In education women, prolactin is released in response to suckling through the infant. Number of releasing and inhibitory factors from the hypothalamus additionally control prolactin release. The most vital of those determinants is dopamine, which has actually an inhibitory effect.

Alcohol consumption by nursing women deserve to influence lactation both v its results on the release of prolactin and also oxytocin (see the complying with section) and also through its results on the milk-producing (i.e., mammary) glands and the composition of the milk. (For much more information top top alcohol’s effects on lactation, view the post by Heil and also Subramanian, pp. 178–184.)

The Posterior Pituitary

The posterior pituitary go not create its very own hormones; instead, that stores two hormones—vasopressin and oxytocin—that are developed by neurons in the hypothalamus. Both hormones collection at the end of the neurons, i m sorry are situated in the hypothalamus and extend to the posterior pituitary.

Vasopressin, additionally called arginine vasopressin (AVP), plays critical role in the body’s water and electrolyte economy. Thus, AVP release promotes the reabsorption of water from the to pee in the kidneys. Through this mechanism, the body reduces to pee volume and conserves water. AVP relax from the pituitary is regulated by the concentration of sodium in the blood and by blood volume and blood pressure. For example, high blood pressure or increased blood volume results in the inhibition of AVP release. Consequently, an ext water is released v the urine, and both blood pressure and also blood volume are reduced. Alcohol also has been presented to inhibit AVP release. Conversely, specific other drugs (e.g., nicotine and also morphine) increase AVP release, as carry out severe pain, fear, nausea, and also general anesthesia, thereby bring about lower pee production and water retention.

Oxytocin, the 2nd hormone stored in the posterior pituitary, stimulates the contractions that the uterus during childbirth. In nursing women, the hormone activates milk ejection in an answer to suckling by the child (i.e., the so-called let-down reflex).

The Adrenal Glands and Their Hormones

The adrenal glands are small structures located on peak of the kidneys. Structurally, lock consist of an external layer (i.e., the cortex) and an inner layer (i.e., the medulla). The adrenal cortex produces numerous hormones, generally corticosteroids (i.e., glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids). The cortex is additionally the resource of tiny amounts of sex hormones; those amounts, however, room insignificant contrasted with the quantities normally produced by the ovaries and also testes. The adrenal medulla generates 2 substances—adrenaline and also noradrenaline—that space released as component of the fight-or-flight response to assorted stress factors.

The major glucocorticoid in people is cortisol (also referred to as hydro-cortisone), which helps manage carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolism. For example, cortisol rises glucose levels in the blood by stimulating gluconeogenesis in the liver and promotes the formation of glycogen (i.e., a molecule the serves as the storage kind of glucose) in the liver. Cortisol also reduces glucose uptake right into muscle and also adipose tissue, thereby opposing the impacts of insulin. Furthermore, in various tissues, cortisol disclosure protein and lipid break down into products (i.e., amino acids and also glycerol, respectively) that deserve to be supplied for gluconeogenesis.

In addition to those metabolic activities, cortisol shows up to defend the body against the deleterious impacts of various stress factors, consisting of acute trauma, significant surgery, significant infections, pain, blood loss, hypoglycemia, and also emotional stress. All of these stress determinants lead to drastic rises in the cortisol level in the blood. For civilization in whom cortisol level cannot increase (e.g., because they had their adrenal glands removed), even mild stress deserve to be fatal. Finally, high doses of cortisol and other corticosteroids can be offered medically to suppress tissue inflammation in response to injuries and also to minimize the immune response to foreign molecules.

The major mineralocorticoid in human beings is aldosterone, which also helps regulate the body’s water and also electrolyte balance. That is principal functions are to conserve sodium and to excrete potassium indigenous the body. For example, aldosterone disclosure the reabsorption of sodium in the kidney, thereby reducing water excretion and also increasing blood volume. Similarly, aldosterone reduce the ratio of sodium to potassium concentration in sweat and also saliva, thereby avoiding sodium ns via those routes. The impact can it is in highly beneficial in warm climates, where lot sweating occurs.

In contrast to the glucocorticoids, pituitary, or hypothalamic, hormones execute not control aldosterone release. Instead, it is controlled primarily by another hormone system, the reninangiotensin system, which also controls kidney function. In addition, the level of sodium and also potassium in the blood influence aldosterone levels.

The Gonads and also Their Hormones

The gonads (i.e., the ovaries and also testes) serve two significant functions. First, they produce the germ cell (i.e., ova in the ovaries and spermatozoa in the testes). Second, the gonads synthesize steroid sex hormones that are vital for the advance and role of both female and also male reproductive offal and secondary sex features (e.g., the adult distribution of body hair, such as facial hair in men) and also for pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation. Three species of sex hormones exist; every with different functions: (1) estrogens (e.g., estradiol), i m sorry exert feminizing effects; (2) progestogens (e.g., progesterone), which affect the uterus in ready for and during pregnancy; and also (3) androgens (e.g., testosterone), i m sorry exert masculinizing effects. In addition to the reproductive functions, sex hormone play countless essential functions throughout the body. For example, they influence the metabolism of carbohydrates and also lipids, the cardiovascular system, and bone growth and development.


The significant estrogen is estradiol, which, in enhancement to small amounts of estrone and also estriol, is produced primarily in the ovaries. Other production web page of estrogens encompass the corpus luteum,2 the placenta, and also the adrenal glands. In men and also postmenopausal women, most estrogens current in the circulation are derived from the conversion of testicular, adrenal, and ovarian androgens. The conversion occurs in peripheral tissues, mostly adipose tissue and skin.

The main function of estrogens is to name: coordinates the normal breakthrough and to work of the woman genitalia and also breasts. During puberty, estrogens encourage the development of the uterus, breasts, and vagina; identify the sample of fat deposition and distribution in the body that results in the usual female shape; manage the pubertal development spurt and also cessation of expansion at adult height; and also control the advance of an additional sexual characteristics. In adult women, the primary features of estrogens incorporate regulating the expression cycle, contributing come the hormone regulation the pregnancy and also lactation, and maintaining woman libido. (For much more information top top the menstrual cycle and also alcohol’s results on it, see the article by Dees and also colleagues, pp. 165–169. For more information on alcohol’s impacts on the arising fetus, view the article by Gabriel and also colleagues, pp. 170–177.)

During menopause, estrogen production in the ovaries ceases. The result reduction in estrogen levels leads to symptoms together as hot flashes, sweating, pounding the the heart (i.e., palpitations), increased irritability, anxiety, depression, and also brittle bones (i.e., osteoporosis). The administration of estrogens (i.e., hormone replacement therapy) can alleviate those symptoms and also reduce the threat of osteoporosis and also coronary heart disease in postmenopausal women. In ~ the exact same time, however, hormone replacement treatment may increase the hazard of certain varieties of cancer (e.g., breast cancer and also uterine cancer). Alcohol intake has been presented to rise estrogen level in the blood and urine, also in premenopausal women who drink 2 drinks or much less per day (Reichman et al. 1993) and in postmenopausal women who drink much less than one drink per day (Gavaler and Van Thiel 1992). This findings indicate that middle alcohol usage may assist prevent osteoporosis and also coronary heart condition in postmenopausal women. Various other studies, however, have actually detected no continual association in between alchol consumption and increased estrogen levels (Dorgan et al. 1994; Purohit 1998). (For much more information top top the effects of alcohol top top postmenopausal women, view the posts by Longnecker and also Tseng, pp. 185–189, and Gavaler, pp. 220–227.)


The ovaries produce progestogens during a specific phase that the expression cycle and in the placenta for many of pregnancy. Progestogens reason changes in the uterine lining in ready for pregnant 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, i m sorry is secreted primarily from the testes yet also, in small amounts, from the adrenal glands (both in men and also women) and also from the ovaries. That is main role is to stimulate the advancement and development of the male genital tract. In addition, testosterone has solid protein anabolic activities—that is, it promotes protein generation, which leads to boosted muscle mass. The particular functions the testosterone differ during different developmental stages, as follows:

In the fetus, testosterone mostly ensures the advance of the internal and external masculine genitalia

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

In the adult male, testosterone primarily serves to keep masculinity, libido, and also sexual potency and also regulate sperm production. Testosterone levels decrease slightly through age, return the drop is no as drastic together the palliation in estrogen levels in women throughout menopause. (For details on alcohol’s results on male reproduction, see the write-up by Emanuele and Emanuele, pp.195–201.)

The Thyroid and Its Hormones

The thyroid gland, which consists of 2 lobes, is situated in former of the windpipe (i.e., trachea), just listed below the voice crate (i.e., larynx). The gland produces 2 structurally connected hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), that are iodinated derivatives of the amino mountain tyrosine. Both hormones are collectively referred to together “thyroid hormone.” T4 constitutes approximately 90 percent of the hormone produced in the thyroid gland. However, T3 is a much an ext active hormone, and most that the T4 developed by the thyroid is converted right into T3 in the liver and also kidneys.

Thyroid hormone in basic serves to rise the line of almost all human body tissues. For example, thyroid hormone stimulates the manufacturing of specific proteins involved in heat generation in the body, a function that is important for keeping body temperature in cold climates. Moreover, thyroid hormone promotes several various other metabolic processes including carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids that help generate the energy required because that the body’s functions. In enhancement to those metabolic effects, thyroid hormone plays critical role in the development of the main nervous system during late fetal and also early postnatal developmental stages. Furthermore, thyroid hormone exerts one effect similar to the of GH on normal bone growth and maturation. Finally, thyroid hormone is required for the normal breakthrough of teeth, skin, and hair follicles and also for the to work of the nervous, cardiovascular, and also gastrointestinal systems.

In enhancement to thyroid hormone, particular cells (i.e., parafollicular C cells) in the thyroid gland produce calcitonin, a hormone the helps preserve normal calcium levels in the blood. Specifically, calcitonin lowers calcium levels in the blood by reduce the release of calcium indigenous the bones; inhibiting the consistent erosion of skeleton (i.e., bone resorption), which additionally releases calcium; and inhibiting the reabsorption that calcium in the kidneys. Those results are opposite come those that parathyroid hormone (PTH), i m sorry is discussed in the adhering to section.

The Parathyroid Glands and also Their Hormones

The parathyroid glands are 4 pea-sized bodies located behind the thyroid gland that produce PTH. This hormone boosts calcium levels in the blood, helping to preserve bone quality and also an sufficient supply that calcium, i beg your pardon is essential for numerous functions throughout the body (e.g., muscle movement and signal infection within cells). Special, PTH causes reabsorption the calcium from and excretion the phosphate in the urine. PTH likewise promotes the relax of save on computer calcium indigenous the bones as well as bone resorption, both the which increase calcium level in the blood. Finally, PTH stimulates the absorb of calcium native the food in the gastrointestinal tract. Continual with PTH’s central role in calcium metabolism, the release of this hormone is not managed by pituitary hormones however by the calcium levels in the blood. Thus, low calcium levels stimulate PTH release, whereas high calcium level suppress it.

Many of the features of PTH call for or are promoted by a substance dubbed 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol, a derivative of vitamin D. In addition, many other hormone are involved in regulating the body’s calcium levels and also bone metabolism, including estrogens, glucocorticoids, and growth hormone. (For an ext information on the hormonal control of bone and calcium metabolism and also on alcohol’s impacts on those systems, watch the short article by Sampson, pp. 190–194.)

The Pancreas and Its Hormones

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


Insulin is created in the beta cells of the Islets the Langerhans. Its primary purpose is to lower blood glucose levels; in fact, insulin is the only blood sugar-lowering hormone in the body. To this end, insulin promotes the formation of storage forms of energy (e.g., glycogen, proteins, and lipids) and suppresses the malfunction of those save on computer nutrients. Accordingly, the target offal of insulin are generally those the are specialized for energy storage, such as the liver, muscles, and adipose tissue. Specifically, insulin has the following metabolic effects:

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

Stimulates the move of amino acids into cells and also protein synthesis in muscle cells, thereby lowering the level of amino acids accessible for gluconeogenesis in the liver

Increases fat synthesis in the liver and also adipose tissue, in order to lowering the levels of glycerol, which likewise can offer as a starting material because that gluconeogenesis.

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


The second blood-sugar–regulating pancreatic hormone is glucagon, i beg your pardon is created in the alpha cell of the Islets the Langerhans. Glucagon increases blood glucose levels; accordingly, its key actions typically are opposite come those of insulin. For example, glucagon increases glycogen break down and gluconeogenesis in the liver as well as the break down of lipids and also proteins. The relax of glucagon is regulated by numerous of the same determinants as is insulin’s release, yet sometimes with the opposite effect. Thus, boost in blood glucose levels stimulates insulin release however inhibits glucagon release.

A finely tuned balance in between the tasks of insulin and glucagon is essential for preserving blood street levels. Accordingly, disturbances of that balance, such as an insulin deficiency or an i can not qualify of the human body to respond adequately come insulin, an outcome in severe disorders, such together diabetes mellitus. (For more information top top diabetes and also on alcohol’s impacts on insulin, glucagon, and also the monitoring of diabetes, view the write-up by Emanuele and colleagues, pp. 211–219.)

Hormone Systems

As this short article has suggested in explicate the various endocrine glands and their hormones, some hormones are regulated directly by the metabolic pathways the they influence. Because that example, blood sugar levels directly regulate insulin and also glucagon relax by the pancreas, and also calcium level in the blood regulate PTH release. Conversely, plenty of hormones produced by target glands are regulated by pituitary hormones, which consequently are controlled by hypothalamic hormones. Instances of such regulatory hormonal cascades encompass the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, and also the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroidal (HPT) axis, which are explained briefly in the complying with sections (see number 3, p.162).

Schematic depiction of the HPA, HPG, and HPT axes. For each system, the hypothalamus secretes releasing hormone (i.e., CRH, GnRH, and TRH) that act ~ above the pituitary gland. In solution to those stimuli, the pituitary gland publication ACTH, gonadotropins (i.e., LH and also FSH), or TSH. ACTH activates the adrenal glands to release cortisol, i m sorry induces metabolic effects. Cortisol likewise acts earlier on the hypothalamus and also pituitary gland by an adverse feedback. LH and also FSH in women stimulate the ovaries to develop estrogens and also progesterone. Depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle, those hormone act earlier on the hypothalamus and also 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 pituitary. Finally, TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to develop the thyroid hormone T3 and T4, both the which boost cell metabolism and also feed ago on the hypothalamus and 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 the the HPA axis, which regulates miscellaneous metabolic functions, is initiated v the relax of CRH native the hypothalamus. This relax occurs in response to various stimuli, including nearly any type of physical or psychological stress; throughout the common sleep-wake cycle; and in an answer to specific neurotransmitters. CRH then stimulates the anterior pituitary to develop ACTH. (In enhancement to CRH, AVP indigenous the hypothalamus also can wake up ACTH release). ACTH, in turn, activates adrenal hormone production, mostly of cortisol, i m sorry mediates the particular physiological results of this hormone system.

The activity of the HPA axis is regulated by an adverse feedback mechanisms. Thus, boosted cortisol level repress CRH release by the hypothalamus and ACTH relax 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. Because that example, insufficient hormone production by the adrenal cortex reasons Addison’s disease, i m sorry is characterized by muscle weakness, dehydration, lose of appetite (i.e., anorexia), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, tiredness, and malaise. Patients through this condition exhibit short levels that plasma cortisol however high levels of ACTH. The boost in ACTH level represents a vain effort by the pituitary to wake up hormone manufacturing in the unresponsive adrenal cortex.

Equally deleterious is the extreme glucocorticoid production that outcomes from overfill ACTH release (i.e., Cushing’s syndrome). Those patients endure symptoms such together muscle weakness and wasting, back pain from osteoporosis, a tendency to bruise easily, redistribution of body fat (i.e., a rounded “moon” face, prominent abdomen, and thin legs), and various emotional disturbances. Due to the fact that of the an adverse feedback device of the HPA axis, the patient’s cortisol levels are high and also the ACTH levels room low.

Both acute and chronic alcohol consumption have been displayed to activate the HPA axis, and some drinkers build a so-called pseudo-Cushing’s syndrome that disappears v abstinence (Veldman and Meinders 1996; Emanuele and Emanuele 1997). (For more information ~ above alcohol’s effect on the HPA axis and also its relationship to alcohol craving, see the post by Gianoulakis, pp. 202–210.)

The HPG Axis

In both men and women, the HPG axis is the hormone device that controls the relax of sex hormones. In both genders, the system is activated by GnRH, i beg your pardon is released consistently in short bursts indigenous the hypothalamus. GnRH then stimulates the relax of FSH and also LH from the anterior pituitary.

In men, LH stimulates specific cells in the testes (i.e., Leydig cells) to relax testosterone. FSH and testosterone are vital regulators of another set of testicular cells (i.e., Sertoli cells), which support and also nourish the sperm cells during their maturation. The HPG axis in men is regulated v a selection of factors. For example, testosterone is part of a negative feedback mechanism that inhibits GnRH relax by the hypothalamus and also LH relax by the pituitary. In addition, the Sertoli cell secrete a substance called inhibin, which stays clear of FSH relax from the pituitary. Finally, the Leydig cells 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 menstrual cycle, LH and FSH stimulate the ovarian follicle that includes the maturing egg to produce estradiol. After ovulation has actually occurred, LH additionally promotes production of progesterone and estradiol by the body luteum. Both hormones participate in a an unfavorable feedback device through most of the term cycle, suppressing GnRH release from the hypothalamus and also LH release from the pituitary. Shortly before ovulation, however, a optimistic feedback device is activated by which estradiol actually enhances LH release from the pituitary. The result surge in LH levels eventually leads to ovulation, the development of the body luteum, and also progesterone release. Progesterone exerts a an adverse feedback top top LH and also FSH release, bring about LH level to decrease again. In addition to those mechanisms, FSH release from the pituitary is regulated by inhibin, a substance produced by particular cells in the ovarian follicle.

Both acute and also chronic alcohol intake can interfere with the regular functioning that the HPG axis, resulting in lessened fertility or also infertility in both men and women and in menstrual disturbances in women. (For more information on alcohol’s effects on the HPG axis in women and also men, view the write-ups by Dees and colleagues, pp. 165–169, and also by Emanuele and also Emanuele, pp. 195–201.)

The HPT Axis

The hormones that make up the HPT axis manage the metabolic procedures of every cells in the body and also are therefore critical for the biology to function normally. The secretion of TRH native the hypothalamus activates the HPT axis. After reaching the pituitary, TRH stimulates the release of TSH, which consequently promotes the production and also release of T4 and also T3 by the thyroid gland. An adverse feed-back results of T4 and also T3 top top both the hypothalamus and also the pituitary manage the HPT system. (For a an introduction of alcohol’s effects on the HPT axis, view sidebar, p. 163.)

One the the essential hormonal equipment regulating regular body to work is the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis, which controls the metabolism of all cells. Just like other hormone systems, alcohol consumption under certain conditions deserve to modify the relax of hormones affiliated in this axis. In healthy nonalcoholics, alcohol usage does not appear to induce any significant changes in the HPT axis (Emanuele and Emanuele 1997). Vice versa, some effects of alcohol on the HPT axis have actually been it was observed in alcoholics. The results differ depending upon the drinking status of the alcoholics studied. In alcoholics experience withdrawal, baseline levels of thyroid hormone (i.e., T3 and also T4) in the blood differ just minimally from 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 this alcoholics (Emanuele and Emanuele 1997). This “blunting” impact may result from alcohol’s influence on the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine produced in the hypothalamus acts not only as a neurotransmitter but additionally as a hormone in that it inhibits the relax of both TSH and also prolactin from the pituitary. Alcohol has been displayed to increase dopaminergic activity and thereby may suppress the TSH response to TRH. This hypothesis is supported by the truth that prolactin relax in response to TRH likewise is blunted in alcoholics undergoing withdrawal.

Alcohol’s results on the HPT axis are even more complex in abstinent alcoholics (Garbutt et al. 1995). In those people, the baseline levels of T3 and also sometimes T4 are reduced than in nonalcoholics. The is unclear, however, if this change represents a direct effect of permanent alcohol usage or outcomes from co-occurring alcohol-related illnesses, because thyroid hormone levels space often lessened in patients with acute or chronic non-thyroid–related illnesses, such together sepsis, burns, or major trauma. In enhancement to the reduced thyroid hormone levels, however, the TSH solution to TRH continues to be blunted in abstinent alcoholics, conversely, the prolactin solution to TRH has actually returned to common levels. This observation shows that a variable other 보다 dopamine most likely contributes come this effect, return the exact mechanisms are unknown.

Finally, some intriguing findings have suggested that abnormal responses of the HPT axis might represent a marker because that a person’s vulnerability come alcoholism. Thus, some people who are at high risk for emerging alcoholism, such as nonalcoholic boy of alcohol addict fathers, have tendency to exhibition a blunted TSH solution to TRH (Emanuele and also Emanuele 1997). These monitorings still require additional investigation, however, for researchers to totally understand their significance.

—Susanne Hiller-Sturmhöfel and also Andrzej Bartke


The neuroendocrine system is a highly facility and tightly regulated network that hormones exit by endocrine glands transparent the body. The level of several of the hormones are regulated in a relatively straightforward manner by the end commodities that castle influence. Thus, blood street levels mostly regulate insulin and also glucagon relax by the pancreas. Other hormones (e.g., those the the HPA, HPG, and HPT axes) are components of hormone cascades whose activities are regulated through fancy feedback mechanisms. In addition, numerous indirect interactions exist in between the assorted hormone solution governing human body functioning. Because that example, hormones such as GH and thyroid hormone, through their results on to move metabolism, might modify blood street levels and, accordingly, insulin release. Similarly, alcohol’s results on one hormone device may have indirect aftermath for other systems, in order to contributing to alcohol’s influences on the work of basically every body organ in the body. That is necessary to store this interconnectedness the neuroendocrine systems in psychic when evaluating alcohol’s affect on assorted hormones, i beg your pardon are defined in the remaining write-ups in this issue.

1Conversely, exocrine glands (e.g., sweat glands and 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 exterior (e.g., saliva released right into the mouth).

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