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Susanne Hiller-Sturmhöfel, Ph.D., is a science editor the Alcohol health & research World. Andrzej Bartke, Ph.D., is professor and also chairman the physiology at southerly Illinois University institution of Medicine, Carbondale, Illinois
Unless otherwise provided in the text, every material showing up in this journal is in the general public domain and may it is in reproduced there is no permission. Quote of the source is appreciated.

You are watching: Major hormones circulate to virtually all tissues

A plethora of hormone regulate numerous of the body’s functions, consisting of growth and development, metabolism, electrolyte balances, and also reproduction. Many glands throughout the body produce hormones. The hypothalamus produces number of releasing and inhibiting hormones that act top top the pituitary gland, stimulating the release of pituitary hormones. Of the pituitary hormones, number of act on various other glands located in miscellaneous regions that 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 testes), which produce sex hormones; the thyroid, i m sorry produces thyroid hormone; the parathyroid, i beg your pardon produces parathyroid hormone; and the pancreas, i beg your pardon produces insulin and glucagon. Numerous of this hormones are component of regulatory hormone cascades entailing a hypothalamic hormone, one or more pituitary hormones, and one or more 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 role properly, its various parts and also organs must communicate with each other to ensure that a consistent internal setting (i.e., homeostasis) is maintained. Because that example, neither the body temperature nor the levels of salts and minerals (i.e., electrolytes) in the blood should fluctuate beyond preset limits. Communication amongst various areas of the body also is necessary for enabling the biology to respond appropriately to any type of changes in the internal and external environments. Two systems help ensure communication: the nervous system and also the hormonal (i.e., neuroendocrine) system. The nervous mechanism generally enables rapid transmission (i.e., in ~ fractions of seconds) the information in between different human body regions. Conversely, hormone communication, which relies on the production and also release of hormones from miscellaneous glands and also on the transport of those hormone via the bloodstream, is better suited for cases that require much more widespread and longer lasting regulation actions. Thus, the two communication systems enhance each other. In addition, both equipment interact: Stimuli native the worried system deserve to influence the release of details hormones and also vice versa.

Generally speaking, hormones regulate the growth, development, and metabolism that the body; the electrolyte composition of bodily fluids; and also reproduction. This article provides an introduction of the hormone systems involved in those regulation processes. The article an initial summarizes several of the simple characteristics that hormone-mediated communication within the body, then reviews the various glands associated in those processes and the significant hormones they produce. For an ext in-depth information on those hormones, the reader should consult endocrinology textbooks (e.g., Constanti et al. 1998; Wilson et al. 1998). Finally, the article presents various endocrine equipment in i beg your pardon hormones developed in number of organs cooperate to attain the wanted regulatory effects. The discussions focus primarily on the device responses in normal, healthy people. Because that information regarding alcohol’s effects on some of the hormone systems, the reader is referred to subsequent short articles in this issue of Alcohol health and wellness & research World.

What room Hormones?

Hormones are molecules the are produced by endocrine glands, consisting of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, adrenal glands, gonads, (i.e., testes and ovaries), thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, and also pancreas (see figure 1). The term “endocrine” indicates that in solution to certain stimuli, the commodities of those glands room released right into the bloodstream.1 The hormones then are lugged via the blood to your target cells. Part hormones have actually only a few specific target cells, whereas other hormones affect numerous cell varieties throughout the body. The target cells for each hormone are characterized by the presence of certain docking molecules (i.e., receptors) because that the hormone that are situated either ~ above the cell surface ar or inside the cell. The interaction in between the hormone and its receptor triggers a cascade that biochemical reactions in the target cabinet that eventually modify the cell’s function or activity.

Mechanisms the Action

Several classes of hormone exist, consisting of steroids, amino acid derivatives, and also polypeptides and also proteins. Those hormone classes different in their general molecular structures (e.g., size and chemical properties). Together a result of the structure differences, your mechanisms of activity (e.g., whether they can go into their target cells and how they modulate the task of those cells) additionally differ. Steroids, which are created by the gonads and part of the adrenal gland (i.e., the adrenal cortex), have a molecular structure comparable to the of cholesterol. The molecules can get in their target cells and interact v receptors in the fluid that fills the cabinet (i.e., the cytoplasm) or in the cabinet nucleus. The hormone-receptor complexes then tie to particular regions that the cell’s hereditary material (i.e., the DNA), in order to regulating the task of certain hormone-responsive genes.

Amino mountain derivatives space modified version of few of the building blocks the proteins. The thyroid gland and also another an ar of the adrenal glands (i.e., the adrenal medulla) create this kind of hormone (i.e., the amino acid derivatives). Favor steroids, amino acid derivatives can go into the cell, wherein they communicate with receptor proteins the are currently associated with specific DNA regions. The interaction modifies the activity of the affected genes.

Polypeptide and protein hormones space chains of amino acids of various lengths (from 3 to numerous hundred amino acids). These hormones are uncovered primarily in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and also pancreas. In some instances, castle are acquired from inactive precursors, or pro-hormones, which have the right 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 hormone cannot get in cells. Instead, they connect with receptors on the cell surface. The communication 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 the Hormone Activity

To maintain the body’s homeostasis and also respond appropriately to transforms in the environment, hormone production and secretion need to be strict controlled. To attain this control, numerous bodily functions are regulated no by a single hormone but by several hormones that regulate each various other (see number 2). For example, for numerous hormone systems, the hypothalamus secretes so-called publication hormones, which are transported via the blood come the pituitary gland. There, the releasing hormones induce the production and also secretion of pituitary hormones, which in turn are transported by the blood to their target glands (e.g., the adrenal glands, gonads, or thyroid). In those glands, the communication of the pituitary hormones with their particular target cells results in the release of the hormones that at some point influence the organs target by the hormone cascade.

Constant feedback native the target glands come the hypothalamus and also pituitary gland ensures that the activity of the hormone system involved remains within appropriate boundaries. Thus, in most cases, negative feedback mechanisms exist by which hormones released by the target glands affect the pituitary gland and/or hypothalamus (see number 2). When details predetermined blood levels of those hormones space reached, the hypothalamus and/or the pituitary ceases hormone release, thereby turning off the cascade. In part instances, a so-called short-loop feedback occurs, in i m sorry pituitary hormones directly act earlier on the hypothalamus.

The sensitivity with which these an unfavorable feedback systems operate (i.e., the target hormone levels that are forced to rotate off hypothalamic or pituitary hormone release) can readjust at different physiological states or step of life. Because that example, the steady reduction in sensitivity of the hypothalamus and pituitary to negative feedback through gonadal steroid hormones plays vital role in sexual maturation.

Although negative feedback is an ext common, part hormone systems are controlled by confident feedback mechanisms, in i beg your pardon a target gland hormone acts earlier on the hypothalamus and/or pituitary to boost the release of hormones that stimulate the cheap of the target gland hormone. One such system occurs during a woman’s menstrual period: raising estrogen levels in the blood temporary stimulate, fairly than inhibit, hormone release from the pituitary and hypothalamus, thereby further increasing estrogen levels and eventually causing ovulation. Together a system requires a specific threshold level, however, at which the positive feedback loop is turned turn off in bespeak to preserve a secure system.

Hormones produced by the major Hormone-Producing (i.e., Endocrine) Glands and 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 relax luteinizing hormone (LH) and 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 expansion hormone (GH) native the pituitary
SomatostatinInhibits the relax of GH indigenous the pituitary
DopamineInhibits the relax of prolactin from the pituitary
Anterior pituitary glandACTHStimulates the release of hormone from the adrenal cortex
LHIn women, stimulates the manufacturing of sex hormone (i.e., estrogens) in the ovaries and also during ovulation; in men, stimulates testosterone manufacturing in the testes
FSHIn women, stimulates follicle development; in men, stimulates sperm production
TSHStimulates the release of thyroid hormone
GHPromotes the body’s growth and also development
ProlactinControls milk production (i.e., lactation)
Posterior pituitary gland1VasopressinHelps regulate the body’s water and also electrolyte levels
OxytocinPromotes uterine contraction during labor and activates milk ejection in nursing women
Adrenal cortexCortisolHelps regulate carbohydrate, protein, and also lipid metabolism; protects versus stress
AldosteroneHelps control the body’s water and also electrolyte regulation
TestesTestosteroneStimulates breakthrough of the masculine reproductive organs, sperm production, and protein anabolism
OvariesEstrogen (produced through the follicle)Stimulates advance of the woman reproductive organs
Progesterone (produced by the body luteum)Prepares uterus because that pregnancy and mammary glands for lactation
Thyroid glandThyroid hormone (i.e., thyroxine and also triiodothyronine )Controls metabolic procedures in every cells
CalcitoninHelps manage calcium management (i.e., lowers calcium level in the blood)
Parathyroid glandParathyroid hormone (PTH)Helps control calcium management (i.e., increases calcium level in the blood)
PancreasInsulinHelps regulate carbohydrate line (i.e., lowers blood sugar levels)
GlucagonHelps regulate carbohydrate line (i.e., boosts 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, human body temperature maintenance, the sleep-wake cycle, and emotional claims (e.g., fear, pain, anger, and pleasure). Hypothalamic hormone play pivotal functions in the regulation of numerous of those functions.

Because the hypothalamus is component of the main nervous system, the hypothalamic hormones actually are created by nerve cell (i.e., neurons). In addition, due to the fact that signals from various other neurons deserve to modulate the relax of hypothalamic hormones, the hypothalamus serves as the major link between the nervous and endocrine systems. Because that example, the hypothalamus receives details from higher mind centers the respond to various eco-friendly signals. Consequently, hypothalamic role is affected by both the external and internal environments as well as by hormone feedback. Stimuli from the external setting that indirectly influence hypothalamic duty include the light-dark cycle; temperature; signal from other members the the same species; and also a wide selection of visual, auditory, olfactory, and also sensory stimuli. The communication between other brain areas and the hypothalamus, which conveys information around the inner environment, involves electrochemical signal transmission through molecules dubbed neurotransmitters (e.g., aspartate, dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, glutamate, norepinephrine, and also serotonin). The complex interplay the the plot of miscellaneous neurotransmitters regulates the production and release of hormone from the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamic hormones room released into blood vessels that connect the hypothalamus and also the pituitary gland (i.e., the hypothalamic-hypophyseal portal system). Since they generally promote or inhibit the release of hormones from the pituitary gland, hypothalamic hormone are typically called releasing or inhibiting hormones. The major releasing and also inhibiting hormones include the following (also watch table, p. 156):

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pituitary and also Its significant Hormones

The pituitary (also sometimes called the hypophysis) is a gland around the size of a small marble and also is located in the brain directly listed below the hypothalamus. The pituitary gland is composed of two parts: the anterior pituitary and also the posterior pituitary.

The Anterior Pituitary

The anterior pituitary produce several important hormones that either wake up target glands (e.g., the adrenal glands, gonads, or thyroid gland) to create target gland hormone or directly affect target organs. The pituitary hormones incorporate adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH); gonadotropins; thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), additionally called thyrotropin; growth hormone (GH); and prolactin.

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

Growth Hormone

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

In enhancement to its growth-promoting role, GH influence carbohydrate, protein, and also fat (i.e., lipid) metabolism. Thus, GH increases the levels of the street glucose in the blood by to reduce glucose uptake by muscle cells and also adipose tissue and also by cultivating glucose manufacturing (i.e., gluconeogenesis) from precursor molecules in the liver. (These actions room opposite come those that the hormone insulin, i beg your pardon is questioned in the section “The Pancreas and also Its Hormones,” p. 160.) GH additionally enhances the absorb of amino acids from the blood into cells, as well as their incorporation right into proteins, and also stimulates the failure of lipids in adipose tissue.

To elicit these various effects, GH convey the activities of plenty of target organs, consisting of the liver, kidneys, bone, cartilage, bones muscle, and also adipose cells. For several of these effects, GH acts directly on the target cells. In other cases, however, GH acts indirectly by stimulating the production of a molecule referred to as insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the liver and also kidneys. The blood then transports IGF-1 come the target organs, whereby it binds to particular receptors top top the cells. This interaction then may result in the enhanced DNA production and cell department that underlie the expansion process.

Two hypothalamic hormones manage GH release: (1) GHRH, i m sorry stimulates GH release, and also (2) somatostatin, which inhibits GH release. This regulatory mechanism likewise involves a short-loop feedback component, by which GH acts on the hypothalamus to wake up somatostatin release. In addition, GH relax is amplified by stress, such as low blood street levels (i.e., hypoglycemia) or significant exercise, and also by the start of deep sleep.

Acute and chronic alcohol intake have been presented to reduce the level of GH and IGF-1 in the blood. Both effects have been observed in animals and in humans. Acute alcohol management also reduces GH secretion in an answer to various other stimuli that normally enhance the hormone’s release. Those deleterious effects of alcohol may be an especially harmful come adolescents, who require GH because that normal breakthrough and puberty. (For an ext information on alcohol’s impacts on puberty and growth, watch the short article by Dees and colleagues, pp. 165–169.)


Together with various other hormones, prolactin theatre a central role in the advance of the woman breast and also in the initiation and also maintenance that lactation after ~ childbirth. Prolactin’s duty in men, however, is not well understood, although extreme prolactin release have the right to lead to decreased sex journey (i.e., libido) and impotence. Number of factors regulate prolactin release from the anterior pituitary. For example, prolactin is released in increasing amounts in response to the climb in estrogen levels in the blood that occurs during pregnancy. In parenting women, prolactin is released in an answer to suckling through the infant. Number of releasing and also inhibitory determinants from the hypothalamus additionally control prolactin release. The most necessary of those components is dopamine, which has actually an inhibitory effect.

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

The Posterior Pituitary

The posterior pituitary does not develop its very own hormones; instead, the stores two hormones—vasopressin and also oxytocin—that are developed by neurons in the hypothalamus. Both hormones collection at the end of the neurons, which are located in the hypothalamus and also 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 that water from the pee in the kidneys. V this mechanism, the human body reduces to pee volume and also conserves water. AVP release from the pituitary is controlled by the concentration of salt in the blood and also by blood volume and blood pressure. Because that example, high blood push or raised blood volume results in the inhibition that AVP release. Consequently, more water is released with the urine, and both blood pressure and blood volume room reduced. Alcohol likewise has been presented to inhibit AVP release. Conversely, details other drugs (e.g., nicotine and also morphine) rise AVP release, as do severe pain, fear, nausea, and also general anesthesia, thereby causing lower urine production and water retention.

Oxytocin, the second hormone stored in the posterior pituitary, stimulates the contractions of the uterus throughout 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 tiny structures located on height of the kidneys. Structurally, they consist the an outer layer (i.e., the cortex) and an inner layer (i.e., the medulla). The adrenal cortex produces countless hormones, generally corticosteroids (i.e., glucocorticoids and also mineralocorticoids). The cortex is also the resource of small amounts the sex hormones; those amounts, however, room insignificant contrasted with the amounts normally developed by the ovaries and testes. The adrenal medulla generates two substances—adrenaline and also noradrenaline—that space released as part of the fight-or-flight an answer to miscellaneous stress factors.

The main glucocorticoid in human beings is cortisol (also referred to as hydro-cortisone), i beg your pardon helps control carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolism. Because that example, cortisol boosts glucose level in the blood through stimulating gluconeogenesis in the liver and also promotes the development of glycogen (i.e., a molecule that serves as the storage type of glucose) in the liver. Cortisol additionally reduces glucose uptake right into muscle and adipose tissue, thereby opposing the results of insulin. Furthermore, in various tissues, cortisol disclosure protein and also lipid failure into assets (i.e., amino acids and glycerol, respectively) that can be supplied for gluconeogenesis.

In enhancement to those metabolic activities, cortisol shows up to defend the body against the deleterious impacts of assorted stress factors, consisting of acute trauma, significant surgery, major infections, pain, blood loss, hypoglycemia, and emotional stress. All of these stress factors lead come drastic rises in the cortisol levels in the blood. For people in whom cortisol levels cannot rise (e.g., due to the fact that they had actually their adrenal glands removed), also mild stress can be fatal. Finally, high sheep of cortisol and other corticosteroids have the right to be used medically come suppress tissue inflammation in an answer to injuries and also to alleviate the immune solution to international molecules.

The major mineralocorticoid in people is aldosterone, which likewise helps manage the body’s water and also electrolyte balance. Its principal functions are to conserve sodium and also to excrete potassium indigenous the body. For example, aldosterone promotes the reabsorption of sodium in the kidney, thereby reducing water excretion and increasing blood volume. Similarly, aldosterone decreases the proportion of sodium to potassium concentrations in sweat and saliva, thereby preventing sodium ns via those routes. The result can it is in highly advantageous in warm climates, where much sweating occurs.

In contrast to the glucocorticoids, pituitary, or hypothalamic, hormones do not regulate aldosterone release. Instead, the is controlled primarily by an additional hormone system, the reninangiotensin system, which likewise controls kidney function. In addition, the levels 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) offer two major functions. First, they produce the germ cell (i.e., ova in the ovaries and also spermatozoa in the testes). Second, the gonads synthesize steroid sex hormones that are vital for the advancement and role of both female and male reproductive organs and second sex qualities (e.g., the adult distribution of human body hair, such together facial hair in men) as well as for pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation. Three varieties of sex hormones exist; each with various functions: (1) estrogens (e.g., estradiol), which exert feminizing effects; (2) progestogens (e.g., progesterone), which affect the uterus in preparation for and also during pregnancy; and (3) androgens (e.g., testosterone), i m sorry exert masculinizing effects. In addition to the reproductive functions, sex hormone play plenty of essential functions throughout the body. For example, they affect the management of carbohydrates and lipids, the cardiovascular system, and bone growth and development.


The major estrogen is estradiol, which, in addition to little amounts that estrone and also estriol, is created primarily in the ovaries. Other production sites of estrogens incorporate the body luteum,2 the placenta, and the adrenal glands. In men and postmenopausal women, many estrogens present in the circulation are obtained from the counter of testicular, adrenal, and ovarian androgens. The conversion occurs in peripheral tissues, mostly adipose tissue and also skin.

The main function of estrogens is to name: coordinates the normal advancement and work of the woman genitalia and also breasts. During puberty, estrogens encourage the growth of the uterus, breasts, and also vagina; recognize the sample of fat deposition and distribution in the body that outcomes in the usual female shape; regulate the pubertal growth spurt and also cessation of development at adult height; and control the breakthrough of second sexual characteristics. In adult women, the primary attributes of estrogens encompass regulating the term cycle, contributing to the hormone regulation of pregnancy and also lactation, and maintaining woman libido. (For an ext information top top the term cycle and alcohol’s impacts on it, watch the article by Dees and also colleagues, pp. 165–169. For much more information on alcohol’s effects on the developing fetus, view the post by Gabriel and also colleagues, pp. 170–177.)

During menopause, estrogen manufacturing in the ovaries ceases. The result reduction in estrogen levels leads to symptoms such as hot flashes, sweating, pounding the the love (i.e., palpitations), increased irritability, anxiety, depression, and brittle skeletal (i.e., osteoporosis). The management of estrogens (i.e., hormone instead of therapy) have the right to alleviate those symptoms and reduce the hazard of osteoporosis and coronary heart condition in postmenopausal women. At the very same time, however, hormone replacement therapy may boost the danger of certain varieties of cancer (e.g., chest cancer and uterine cancer). Alcohol intake has been presented to rise estrogen level in the blood and also urine, even in premenopausal women who drink two drinks or much less per job (Reichman et al. 1993) and in postmenopausal women who drink much less than one drink per day (Gavaler and also Van Thiel 1992). These findings indicate that moderate alcohol intake may assist prevent osteoporosis and coronary heart condition in postmenopausal women. Other studies, however, have detected no consistent association in between alchol consumption and increased estrogen levels (Dorgan et al. 1994; Purohit 1998). (For an ext information top top the results of alcohol top top postmenopausal women, view the posts by Longnecker and Tseng, pp. 185–189, and also Gavaler, pp. 220–227.)


The ovaries create progestogens throughout a specific phase the the expression cycle and also in the placenta for many of pregnancy. Progestogens reason changes in the uterine lining in ready for pregnant and—together with estrogens—stimulate the development of the mammary glands in the breasts in preparation for lactation. The main progestogen is progesterone.


The primary androgenic steroid is testosterone, which is secreted mainly from the testes however also, in small amounts, native the adrenal glands (both in men and women) and from the ovaries. The main role is to stimulate the advance and development of the male genital tract. In addition, testosterone has strong protein anabolic activities—that is, it promotes protein generation, which leads to raised muscle mass. The details functions of testosterone vary during different developmental stages, as follows:

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

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

In the adult male, testosterone generally serves to keep masculinity, libido, and also sexual potency and regulate sperm production. Testosterone levels decrease slightly with age, return the drop is no as drastic together the reduction in estrogen level in women throughout menopause. (For info on alcohol’s impacts on masculine reproduction, watch the post by Emanuele and also Emanuele, pp.195–201.)

The Thyroid and Its Hormones

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

Thyroid hormone in basic serves to rise the line of practically all human body tissues. Because that example, thyroid hormone stimulates the production of details proteins involved in warm generation in the body, a function that is important for preserving body temperature in cold climates. Moreover, thyroid hormone promotes several various other metabolic processes entailing carbohydrates, proteins, and also lipids that assist generate the power required for the body’s functions. In addition to those metabolic effects, thyroid hormone plays an essential role in the advancement of the central nervous system throughout late fetal and early postnatal developmental stages. Furthermore, thyroid hormone exerts an effect comparable to the of GH on typical bone growth and maturation. Finally, thyroid hormone is required for the normal advance of teeth, skin, and also hair follicles as well as for the work of the nervous, cardiovascular, and also gastrointestinal systems.

In addition to thyroid hormone, particular cells (i.e., parafollicular C cells) in the thyroid gland develop calcitonin, a hormone the helps preserve normal calcium level in the blood. Special, calcitonin lowers calcium level in the blood by reducing the relax of calcium indigenous the bones; inhibiting the constant erosion of skeleton (i.e., bone resorption), which also releases calcium; and inhibiting the reabsorption the calcium in the kidneys. Those impacts are opposite come those that parathyroid hormone (PTH), which is discussed in the following section.

The Parathyroid Glands and also Their Hormones

The parathyroid glands are four pea-sized bodies situated behind the thyroid gland that develop PTH. This hormone boosts calcium level in the blood, help to keep bone quality and also an enough supply of calcium, which is required for numerous functions transparent the human body (e.g., muscle movement and signal transmission within cells). Specifically, PTH causes reabsorption of calcium from and excretion that phosphate in the urine. PTH also promotes the relax of save calcium indigenous the bones and bone resorption, both of which increase calcium level in the blood. Finally, PTH stimulates the absorb of calcium from the food in the cradle tract. Regular with PTH’s central role in calcium metabolism, the relax of this hormone is not regulated by pituitary hormones yet by the calcium levels in the blood. Thus, low calcium levels stimulate PTH release, whereas high calcium level suppress it.

Many that the functions of PTH call for or are assisted in by a substance referred to as 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol, a derivative of vitamin D. In addition, countless other hormone are connected in regulating the body’s calcium levels and also bone metabolism, including estrogens, glucocorticoids, and growth hormone. (For more information on the hormonal control of bone and calcium metabolism and also on alcohol’s effects on those systems, view the post by Sampson, pp. 190–194.)

The Pancreas and also Its Hormones

The pancreas is located in the abdomen, behind the stomach, and serves two distinctly various functions. First, it acts as an exocrine organ, because the bulk of pancreatic cells create various digestive enzyme that space secreted right into the gut and which are necessary for the efficient digestion of food. Second, the kidneys serves as an endocrine organ, because details cell swarm (i.e., the Islets of Langerhans) develop two hormones—insulin and glucagon—that are released right into the blood and also play pivotal functions in blood glucose regulation.


Insulin is developed in the beta cells of the Islets that Langerhans. Its major purpose is to lower blood glucose levels; in fact, insulin is the only blood sugar-lowering hormone in the body. To this end, insulin disclosure the formation of storage develops of power (e.g., glycogen, proteins, and lipids) and also suppresses the malfunction of those save nutrients. Accordingly, the target organs of insulin are primarily those the are committed for energy storage, such as the liver, muscles, and also adipose tissue. Special, insulin has actually the adhering to metabolic effects:

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

Stimulates the deliver of amino acids right into cells and also protein synthetic in muscle cells, thereby lowering the level of amino acids easily accessible for gluconeogenesis in the liver

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

The release of insulin is controlled by miscellaneous factors, including 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 thyroid hormone).


The second blood-sugar–regulating pancreatic hormone is glucagon, i beg your pardon is developed in the alpha cell of the Islets of Langerhans. Glucagon boosts blood glucose levels; accordingly, its main actions typically are opposite to those the insulin. For example, glucagon boosts glycogen failure and gluconeogenesis in the liver and the break down of lipids and proteins. The release of glucagon is regulation by plenty of of the same determinants as is insulin’s release, but sometimes v the opposite effect. Thus, boost in blood glucose level stimulates insulin release yet inhibits glucagon release.

A finely tuned balance between the activities of insulin and also glucagon is essential for keeping blood street levels. Accordingly, disturbances of that balance, such together an insulin deficiency or an i can not qualify of the human body to answer adequately to insulin, result in significant disorders, such together diabetes mellitus. (For an ext information on diabetes and also on alcohol’s results on insulin, glucagon, and also the monitoring of diabetes, watch the short article by Emanuele and colleagues, pp. 211–219.)

Hormone Systems

As this article has indicated in relenten the various endocrine glands and their hormones, part hormones are controlled directly through the metabolic pathways the they influence. For example, blood sugar levels directly control insulin and glucagon relax by the pancreas, and also calcium levels in the blood regulate PTH release. Conversely, numerous hormones produced by target glands room regulated through pituitary hormones, which consequently are controlled by hypothalamic hormones. Instances of together regulatory hormone cascades include the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, and also the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroidal (HPT) axis, i m sorry are defined briefly in the following sections (see figure 3, p.162).

Schematic representation of the HPA, HPG, and also HPT axes. For each system, the hypothalamus secretes releasing hormone (i.e., CRH, GnRH, and TRH) the act ~ above the pituitary gland. In response to those stimuli, the pituitary gland releases ACTH, gonadotropins (i.e., LH and also FSH), or TSH. ACTH activates the adrenal glands to release cortisol, i beg your pardon induces metabolic effects. Cortisol also acts back on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland by an unfavorable feedback. LH and FSH in females stimulate the ovaries to develop estrogens and also progesterone. Depending upon the phase of the expression cycle, those hormones act back on the hypothalamus and also pituitary gland in either a stimulatory or inhibitory manner. In men, LH stimulates the testes to release testosterone, which feeds ago on the hypothalamus and also pituitary. Finally, TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to develop the thyroid hormone T3 and T4, both of which rise cell metabolism as well as 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 of the HPA axis, i m sorry regulates assorted metabolic functions, is initiated with the release of CRH indigenous the hypothalamus. This release occurs in response to various stimuli, including practically any form of physics or mental stress; throughout the normal sleep-wake cycle; and in response to particular neurotransmitters. CRH climate stimulates the anterior pituitary to create ACTH. (In enhancement to CRH, AVP indigenous the hypothalamus likewise can wake up ACTH release). ACTH, in turn, activates adrenal hormone production, primarily of cortisol, which mediates the certain physiological impacts of this hormone system.

The activity of the HPA axis is regulation by an adverse feedback mechanisms. Thus, enhanced cortisol levels repress CRH relax by the hypothalamus and also ACTH relax by the pituitary. In addition, ACTH can directly inhibit hypothalamic CRH release.

Any disturbances in the HPA axis can result in serious clinical consequences. Because that example, insufficient hormone production by the adrenal cortex causes Addison’s disease, i beg your pardon is characterized by muscle weakness, dehydration, lose of appetite (i.e., anorexia), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, tiredness, and malaise. Patients with this condition exhibit short levels of plasma cortisol however high levels of ACTH. The boost in ACTH levels 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 results from overfill ACTH release (i.e., Cushing’s syndrome). Those patients experience symptoms such together muscle weakness and also wasting, ago pain from osteoporosis, a tendency to bruise easily, redistribution of body fat (i.e., a rounded “moon” face, significant abdomen, and also thin legs), and also various emotional disturbances. Since of the an adverse feedback mechanism of the HPA axis, the patient’s cortisol levels are high and also the ACTH levels are low.

Both acute and chronic alcohol intake have been presented to activate the HPA axis, and some drinkers build a so-called pseudo-Cushing’s syndrome the disappears with abstinence (Veldman and also Meinders 1996; Emanuele and also Emanuele 1997). (For much more information ~ above alcohol’s impact on the HPA axis and its relation to alcohol craving, see the short article by Gianoulakis, pp. 202–210.)

The HPG Axis

In both men and women, the HPG axis is the hormone system that controls the release of sex hormones. In both genders, the device is caused by GnRH, i m sorry is released routinely in quick bursts indigenous the hypothalamus. GnRH then stimulates the release of FSH and also LH from the anterior pituitary.

In men, LH stimulates specific cells in the testes (i.e., Leydig cells) to release testosterone. FSH and testosterone are crucial regulators the another collection of testicular cells (i.e., Sertoli cells), i beg your pardon support and also nourish the sperm cells throughout their maturation. The HPG axis in guys is regulated with a variety of factors. For example, testosterone is component of a negative feedback device that inhibits GnRH relax by the hypothalamus and also LH release by the pituitary. In addition, the Sertoli cell secrete a substance called inhibin, which stays clear of FSH release from the pituitary. Finally, the Leydig cell and, come a lesser extent, the Sertoli cells produce a substance referred to as activin, i beg your pardon stimulates FSH secretion and also thus has the opposite results of inhibin.

In women, during the expression cycle, LH and also FSH stimulate the ovarian follicle that contains the maturing egg to develop estradiol. After ovulation has actually occurred, LH also promotes production of progesterone and estradiol by the corpus luteum. Both hormones take part in a negative feedback system through many of the term cycle, suppressing GnRH release from the hypothalamus and also LH release from the pituitary. Shortly prior to ovulation, however, a positive feedback mechanism is activated whereby estradiol actually boosts LH relax from the pituitary. The result surge in LH levels eventually leads to ovulation, the development of the corpus luteum, and progesterone release. Progesterone exerts a an adverse feedback top top LH and also FSH release, resulting in LH levels to decline again. In enhancement to those mechanisms, FSH relax from the pituitary is regulation by inhibin, a substance developed by particular cells in the ovarian follicle.

Both acute and chronic alcohol consumption can interfere v the typical functioning the the HPG axis, result in reduced fertility or even infertility in both men and women and also in term disturbances in women. (For much more information on alcohol’s results on the HPG axis in women and also men, check out the write-ups by Dees and also colleagues, pp. 165–169, and also by Emanuele and Emanuele, pp. 195–201.)

The HPT Axis

The hormone that comprise the HPT axis manage the metabolic processes of all cells in the body and also are therefore an important for the organism to function normally. The secretion of TRH native the hypothalamus activates the HPT axis. After reaching the pituitary, TRH stimulates the relax of TSH, which in turn promotes the production and also release that T4 and T3 by the thyroid gland. An unfavorable feed-back effects of T4 and T3 on both the hypothalamus and also the pituitary manage the HPT system. (For a an introduction of alcohol’s results on the HPT axis, watch sidebar, p. 163.)

One the the vital hormonal solution regulating common body to work is the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis, which controls the metabolism of all cells. Similar to other hormone systems, alcohol consumption under certain conditions can modify the release of hormones associated in this axis. In healthy and balanced nonalcoholics, alcohol usage does not show up to induce any far-reaching changes in the HPT axis (Emanuele and Emanuele 1997). Conversely, some effects of alcohol ~ above the HPT axis have been it was observed in alcoholics. The impacts differ depending upon the drinking status of the alcoholics studied. In alcoholics experience withdrawal, baseline level of thyroid hormone (i.e., T3 and T4) in the blood differ just minimally native those in nonalcoholics. The ability of hypothalamic thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) to activate the relax of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from the pituitary, however, is impaired in this alcoholics (Emanuele and Emanuele 1997). This “blunting” effect may an outcome from alcohol’s affect 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 release of both TSH and also prolactin indigenous the pituitary. Alcohol has actually been displayed to boost dopaminergic task and thereby may suppress the TSH an answer to TRH. This theory is supported by the reality that prolactin release in an answer to TRH also is blunted in alcoholics undergoing withdrawal.

Alcohol’s effects on the HPT axis are even more complex in abstinent alcoholics (Garbutt et al. 1995). In those people, the baseline levels of T3 and sometimes T4 are lower than in nonalcoholics. That is unclear, however, if this adjust represents a straight effect of irreversible alcohol usage or results from co-occurring alcohol-related illnesses, since thyroid hormone levels are often diminished in patients through acute or chronic non-thyroid–related illnesses, such as sepsis, burns, or significant trauma. In enhancement to the diminished thyroid hormone levels, however, the TSH solution 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 factor other 보다 dopamine likely contributes come this effect, although the exact mechanisms are unknown.

Finally, some intriguing findings have argued that abnormal responses of the HPT axis may represent a marker for a person’s vulnerability come alcoholism. Thus, some world who room at high threat for developing alcoholism, such as nonalcoholic boy of alcoholic fathers, often tend to exhibit a blunted TSH an answer to TRH (Emanuele and also Emanuele 1997). These monitorings still require further investigation, however, for researchers to completely understand your significance.

—Susanne Hiller-Sturmhöfel and Andrzej Bartke


The neuroendocrine device is a highly complex and tightly managed network of hormones released by endocrine glands throughout the body. The levels of some of the hormones room regulated in a reasonably straightforward manner by the end assets that castle influence. Thus, blood street levels primarily regulate insulin and also glucagon relax by the pancreas. Other hormones (e.g., those of the HPA, HPG, and also HPT axes) are parts of hormone cascades whose activities are managed through sophisticated feedback mechanisms. In addition, plenty of indirect interactions exist between the assorted hormone systems governing human body functioning. For example, hormones such as GH and also thyroid hormone, v their effects on to move metabolism, might modify blood sugar levels and, accordingly, insulin release. Similarly, alcohol’s effects on one hormone device may have actually indirect after-effects for various other systems, thereby contributing come alcohol’s influences on the to work of essentially every body organ in the body. That is vital to store this interconnectedness that neuroendocrine solution in mental when examining alcohol’s impact on assorted hormones, i m sorry are explained in the remaining posts in this issue.

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

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