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A hormone is a chemical released by a cell, a gland, or an organ
in one part of the body that affects cells in other parts of the
organism. Generally, only a small amount of hormone is required
to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger
that transports a signal from one cell to another. All
multicellular organisms produce hormones; plant hormones are
also called phytohormones. Hormones in animals are often
transported in the blood. Cells respond to a hormone when they
express a specific receptor for that hormone. The hormone binds
to the receptor protein, resulting in the activation of a signal
transduction mechanism that ultimately leads to cell type-
specific responses.
Endocrine hormone molecules are secreted (released) directly into
the bloodstream, typically into fenestrated capillaries. Hormones
with paracrine function diffuse through the interstitial spaces
to nearby target tissues.
A variety of exogenous chemical compounds, both natural and
synthetic, have hormone-like effects on both humans and
wildlife. Their interference with the synthesis, secretion,
transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in
the body can change the homeostasis, reproduction,
development, and/or behavior, just as endogenously produced
hormones do.

FIG:- Epinephrine (adrenaline),
Hormonal signaling involves the following
1.Biosynthesis of a particular hormone in a particular tissue
2.Storage and secretion of the hormone
3.Transport of the hormone to the target cell(s)
4.Recognition of the hormone by an associated cell membrane
or intracellular receptor protein
5.Relay and amplification of the received hormonal signal via a
signal transduction process: This then leads to a cellular
response. The reaction of the target cells may then be recognized
by the original hormone-producing cells, leading to a down-
regulation in hormone production. This is an example of a
homeostatic negative feedback loop.
6.Degradation of the hormone.
Hormone cells are typically of a specialized cell type, residing
within a particular endocrine gland, such as thyroid gland,
ovaries, and testes. Hormones exit their cell of origin via
exocytosis or another means of membrane transport. The
hierarchical model is an oversimplification of the hormonal
signaling process. Cellular recipients of a particular hormonal
signal may be one of several cell types that reside within a
number of different tissues, as is the case for insulin, which
triggers a diverse range of systemic physiological effects.
Different tissue types may also respond differently to the same
hormonal signal. Because of this, hormonal signaling is
elaborate and hard to dissect.
Most hormones initiate a cellular response by initially
combining with either a specific intracellular or cell membrane
associated receptor protein. A cell may have several different
receptors that recognize the same hormone and activate
different signal transduction pathways, or a cell may have
several different receptors that recognize different hormones and
activate the same biochemical pathway.
For many hormones, including most protein hormones, the
receptor is membrane-associated and embedded in the plasma
membrane at the surface of the cell. The interaction of hormone
and receptor typically triggers a cascade of secondary effects
within the cytoplasm of the cell, often involving
phosphorylation or dephosphorylation of various other
cytoplasmic proteins, changes in ion channel permeability, or
increased concentrations of intracellular molecules that may act
as secondary messengers (e.g., cyclic AMP). Some protein
hormones also interact with intracellular receptors located in the
cytoplasm or nucleus by an intracrine mechanism.
For hormones such as steroid or thyroid hormones, their
receptors are located intracellularly within the cytoplasm of
their target cell. To bind their receptors, these hormones must
cross the cell membrane. They can do so because they are lipid-
soluble. The combined hormone-receptor complex then moves
across the nuclear membrane into the nucleus of the cell, where
it binds to specific DNA sequences, effectively amplifying or
suppressing the action of certain genes, and affecting protein
synthesis. However, it has been shown that not all steroid
receptors are located intracellularly. Some are associated with the
plasma membrane.
An important consideration, dictating the level at which cellular signal
transduction pathways are activated in response to a hormonal signal,
is the effective concentration of hormone-receptor complexes that are
formed. Hormone-receptor complex concentrations are effectively
determined by three factors:
1.The number of hormone molecules available for complex formation
2.The number of receptor molecules available for complex formation
3. The binding affinity between hormone and receptor.
The number of hormone molecules available for complex formation is
usually the key factor in determining the level at which signal
transduction pathways are activated, the number of hormone molecules
available being determined by the concentration of circulating hormone,
which is in turn influenced by the level and rate at which they are
secreted by biosynthetic cells. The number of receptors at the cell
surface of the receiving cell can also be varied, as can the affinity
between the hormone and its receptor.

Most cells are capable of producing one or more molecules, which act as
signaling molecules to other cells, altering their growth, function, or
metabolism. The classical hormones produced by cells in the endocrine
glands mentioned so far in this article are cellular products, specialized
to serve as regulators at the overall organism level. However, they may
also exert their effects solely within the tissue in which they are
produced and originally released.
The rate of hormone biosynthesis and secretion is often regulated by a
homeostatic negative feedback control mechanism. Such a mechanism
depends on factors that influence the metabolism and excretion of
hormones. Thus, higher hormone concentration alone cannot trigger the
negative feedback mechanism. Negative feedback must be triggered by
overproduction of an "effect" of the hormone.
Hormone secretion can be stimulated and inhibited by:
1.Other hormones (stimulating- or releasing -hormones)
2.Plasma concentrations of ions or nutrients, as well as binding
3.Neurons and mental activity
4.Environmental changes, e.g., of light or temperature
One special group of hormones is the tropic hormones that stimulate the
hormone production of other endocrine glands. For example, thyroid-
stimulating hormone (TSH) causes growth and increased activity of
another endocrine gland, the thyroid, which increases output of thyroid
A recently identified class of hormones is that of the "hunger hormones"
- ghrelin, orexin, and PYY 3-36 - and "satiety hormones" - e.g.,
cholecystokinin, leptin, nesfatin-1, obestatin.
To release active hormones quickly into the circulation, hormone
biosynthetic cells may produce and store biologically inactive hormones
in the form of pre- or prohormones. These can then be quickly converted
into their active hormone form in response to a particular stimulus.

FIG:- The left diagram shows a steroid (lipid) hormone (1) entering a cell and (2) binding
to a receptor protein in the nucleus, causing (3) mRNA synthesis which is the first step of
protein synthesis. The right side shows protein hormones (1) binding with receptors which
(2) begins a transduction pathway. The transduction pathway ends (3) with transcription
factors being activated in the nucleus, and protein synthesis beginning. In both diagrams, a
is the hormone, b is the cell membrane, c is the cytoplasm, and d is the nucleus

In mammals
1.Hormones have the following effects on the body:
2.stimulation or inhibition of growth
3.mood swings
4.induction or suppression of apoptosis (programmed cell death)
5.activation or inhibition of the immune system
6.regulation of metabolism
7.preparation of the body for mating, fighting, fleeing, and other
8.preparation of the body for a new phase of life, such as puberty,
parenting, and menopause
9.control of the reproductive cycle
10.hunger cravings
11.sexual arousal
A hormone may also regulate the production and release of other
hormones. Hormone signals control the internal environment of the
body through homeostasis.

Endocrine glands are glands of the endocrine system that secrete their
products, hormones, directly into the blood rather than through a duct.
The main endocrine glands include the pituitary gland, pancreas,
ovaries, testes, thyroid gland, and adrenal glands. The hypothalamus is
a neuroendocrine organ. Other organs which are not so well known for
their endocrine activity include the stomach, which produces hormones
such as ghrelin. Local chemical messengers, not generally considered
part of the endocrine system, include autocrines, which act on the cells
that secrete them, and paracrines, which act on a different cell type
The ability of a target cell to respond to a hormone depends on the
presence of receptors, within the cell or on its plasma membrane, to
which the hormone can bind.
Hormone receptors are dynamic structures. Changes in number and
sensitivity of hormone receptors may occur in response to high or low
levels of stimulating hormones.
Blood levels of hormones reflect a balance between secretion and
degradation/excretion. The liver and kidneys are the major organs that
degrade hormones; breakdown products are excreted in urine and feces.
Hormone half-life and duration of activity are limited and vary from
hormone to hormone.

Endocrine organs are activated to release their hormones by humoral,
neural, or hormonal stimuli. Negative feedback is important in
regulating hormone levels in the blood.
The nervous system, acting through hypothalamic controls, can in
certain cases override or modulate hormonal effects.

FIG:- Endocrine system:
1. Pineal gland,
2. Pituitary gland,
3. Thyroid gland,
4. Thymus,
5. Adrenal gland,
6. Pancreas,
7. Ovary,
8. Testicle


In vertebrate anatomy, the pituitary gland, or hypophysis, is an
endocrine gland about the size of a pea and weighing 5 grams (0.18 oz)
in humans. It is a protrusion off the bottom of the hypothalamus at the
base of the brain, and rests in a small, bony cavity (sella turcica)
covered by a dural fold (diaphragma sellae). The pituitary is
functionally connected to the hypothalamus by the median eminence
via a small tube called the infundibular stem (Pituitary stalk). The
pituitary fossa, in which the pituitary gland sits, is situated in the
sphenoid bone in the middle cranial fossa at the base of the brain. The
pituitary gland secretes nine hormones that regulate homeostasis
The pituitary gland is a pea-sized gland that sits in a protective bony
enclosure called the sella turcica. It is composed of three lobes: anterior,
intermediate, and posterior. In many animals, these three lobes are
distinct. However, in humans, the intermediate lobe is but a few cell
layers thick and indistinct; as a result, it is often considered part of the
anterior pituitary. In all animals, the fleshy, glandular anterior
pituitary is distinct from the neural composition of the posterior
pituitary. It belongs to the diencephalon..

Hormones secreted from the pituitary gland help control the following
body processes:
1.Growth (Excess of HGH can lead to gigantism and acromegaly.)
2.Blood pressure
3.Some aspects of pregnancy and childbirth including stimulation of
uterine contractions during childbirth
4.Breast milk production
5.Sex organ functions in both males and females
6.Thyroid gland function
7.The conversion of food into energy (metabolism)
8.Water and osmolarity regulation in the body
9.Water balance via the control of reabsorption of water by the kidneys
10.Temperature regulation
11.Pain relief

The thyroid gland in vertebrate anatomy, is one of the largest
endocrine glands. The thyroid gland is found in the neck, below the
thyroid cartilage (which forms the laryngeal prominence, or "Adam's
apple"). The isthmus (the bridge between the two lobes of the thyroid) is
located inferior to the cricoid cartilage.
The thyroid gland controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes
proteins, and controls how sensitive the body is to other hormones. It
participates in these processes by producing thyroid hormones, the
principal ones being triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine which can
sometimes be referred to as tetraiodothyronine (T4). These hormones
regulate the rate of metabolism and affect the growth and rate of
function of many other systems in the body. T3 and T4 are synthesized
from both iodine and tyrosine. The thyroid also produces calcitonin,
which plays a role in calcium homeostasis.
Hormonal output from the thyroid is regulated by thyroid-stimulating
hormone (TSH) produced by the anterior pituitary, which itself is
regulated by thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) produced by the
The thyroid gets its name from the Greek adjective for "shield-shaped"
due to the shape of the related thyroid cartilage. The most common
problems of the thyroid gland consist of an overactive thyroid gland,
referred to as hyperthyroidism, and an underactive thyroid gland,
referred to as hypothyroidism.

The hypothalamus is a portion of the brain that contains a number of
small nuclei with a variety of functions. One of the most important
functions of the hypothalamus is to link the nervous system to the
endocrine system via the pituitary gland (hypophysis).
The hypothalamus is located below the thalamus, just above the brain
stem. In the terminology of neuro anatomy, it forms the ventral part of
the diencephalon. All vertebrate brains contain a hypothalamus. In
humans, it is roughly the size of an almond.
The hypothalamus is responsible for certain metabolic processes and
other activities of the autonomic nervous system. It synthesizes and
secretes certain neurohormones, often called hypothalamic-releasing
hormones, and these in turn stimulate or inhibit the secretion of
pituitary hormones. The hypothalamus controls body temperature,
hunger, important aspects of parenting and attachment behaviors,
thirst, fatigue, sleep, and circadian cycles.

In mammals, the adrenal glands (also known as suprarenal glands) are
endocrine glands that sit at the top of the kidneys; in humans, the right
adrenal gland is triangular shaped, while the left adrenal gland is
semilunar shaped. They are chiefly responsible for releasing hormones in
response to stress through the synthesis of corticosteroids such as
cortisol and catecholamines such as epinephrine (adrenaline) and
norepinephrine. These endocrine glands also produce androgens in their
innermost cortical layer. The adrenal glands affect kidney function
through the secretion of aldosterone, and recent data suggest that
adrenocortical cells under pathological as well as under physiological
conditions show neuroendocrine properties; within the normal adrenal,
this neuroendocrine differentiation seems to be restricted to cells of the
zona glomerulosa and might be important for an autocrine regulation
of adrenocortical function.

The adrenal cortex is devoted to production of corticosteroid and
androgen hormones. Specific cortical cells produce particular hormones
including aldosterone, cortisol, and androgens such as androstenedione.
Under normal unstressed conditions, the human adrenal glands produce
the equivalent of 3540 mg of cortisone acetate per day.
The adrenal cortex comprises three zones, or layers. This anatomic
zonation can be appreciated at the microscopic level, where each zone
can be recognized and distinguished from one another based on
structural and anatomic characteristics. The adrenal cortex exhibits
functional zonation as well: by virtue of the characteristic enzymes
present in each zone, the zones produce and secrete distinct hormones.

The pineal gland (also called the pineal body, epiphysis cerebri,
epiphysis, conarium or the "third eye") is a small endocrine gland in the
vertebrate brain. It produces the serotonin derivative melatonin, a
hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and
seasonal functions. Its shape resembles a tiny pine cone (hence its
name), and it is located near the centre of the brain, between the two
hemispheres, tucked in a groove where the two rounded thalamic bodies
Nearly all vertebrate species possess a pineal gland. The most important
exception is the hagfish, which is often thought of as the most
primitive type of vertebrate. Even in the hagfish, though, there may be
a "pineal equivalent" structure in the dorsal diencephalon. The lancelet
amphioxus, the nearest existing relative to vertebrates, also lacks a
recognizable pineal gland. The lamprey, however (considered almost as
primitive as the hagfish), does possess one. A few "higher" types of
vertebrates, including the alligator, lack pineal glands because they
have been lost over the course of evolution.

The pancreas is a glandular organ in the digestive system and endocrine
system of vertebrates. It is both an endocrine gland producing several
important hormones, including insulin, glucagon, somatostatin, and
pancreatic polypeptide, and a digestive organ, secreting pancreatic juice
containing digestive enzymes that assist the absorption of nutrients
and the digestion in the small intestine. These enzymes help to further
break down the carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids in the chyme.

The gonad is the organ that makes gametes. The gonads in males
are the testes, and the gonads in females are the ovaries. The
product, gametes, are haploid germ cells. For example,
spermatozoon and egg cells are gametes.

An apocrine sweat gland is a sweat gland composed of a coiled
secretory portion located at the junction of the dermis and
subcutaneous fat, from which a straight portion inserts and secretes
into the infundibular portion of the hair follicle. In humans, apocrine
sweat glands are found only in certain locations of the body: the axillae
(armpits), areola and nipples of the breast, ear canal, eyelids, wings of
the nostril, perianal region, and some parts of the external genitalia.
Modified apocrine glands include the ciliary glands in the eyelids; the
ceruminous glands, which produce ear wax; and the mammary glands,
which produce milk. The rest of the body is covered by ecocrine sweat
Most non-primate mammals, however, have apocrine sweat glands over
the greater part of their body. Domestic animals such as dogs and cats
have apocrine glands at each hair follicle but eccrine glands only in foot
pads and snout. Their apocrine glands, like those in humans, produce
an odorless, oily, opaque secretion that gains its characteristic odor
upon bacterial decomposition. Eccrine glands on their paws increase
friction and prevent them from slipping when fleeing from danger.

The exocrine pancreas has ducts that are arranged in clusters called
acini (singular acinus). Pancreatic secretions are secreted into the lumen
of the acinus, and then accumulate in intralobular ducts that drain to
the main pancreatic duct, which drains directly into the duodenum.
Control of the exocrine function of the pancreas is via the hormones
gastrin, cholecystokinin and secretin, which are hormones secreted by
cells in the stomach and duodenum, in response to distension and/or
food and which cause secretion of pancreatic juices.
Pancreatic secretions from ductal cells contain bicarbonate ions and are
alkaline in order to neutralize the acidic chyme that the stomach churns
The pancreas is also the main source of enzymes for digesting fats
(lipids) and proteins. (The enzymes that digest polysaccharides, by
contrast, are primarily produced by the walls of the intestines.)
The cells are filled with secretory granules containing the precursor
digestive enzymes. The major proteases which the pancreas secretes are
trypsinogen and chymotrypsinogen. Secreted to a lesser degree are
pancreatic lipase and pancreatic amylase. The pancreas also secretes
phospholipase A2, lysophospholipase, and cholesterol esterase.
The precursor enzymes (termed zymogens or proenzymes) are inactive
variants of the enzymes; thus autodegradation, which can lead to
pancreatitis, is avoided. Once released in the intestine, the enzyme
enteropeptidase (formerly, and incorrectly, called enterokinase) present
in the intestinal mucosa activates trypsinogen by cleaving it to form
trypsin. The free trypsin then cleaves the rest of the trypsinogen, as
well as chymotrypsinogen to its active form chymotrypsin.

A gastric chief cell (or peptic cell, or gastric zymogenic cell) is a cell in
the stomach that releases pepsinogen, gastric lipase and chymosin. The
cell stains basophilic upon H&E prep due to the large proportion of
rough endoplasmic reticulum in its cytoplasm.
Chief cells release the zymogen (enzyme precursor) pepsinogen when
stimulated by a variety of factors including cholinergic activity from
the vagus nerve and acidic condition in the stomach. Gastrin and
secretin may also act as secretagogues.
It works in conjunction with the parietal cell, which releases gastric
acid, converting the pepsinogen into pepsin.

Paneth cells, along with goblet cells, enterocytes, and enteroendocrine
cells, represent the principal cell types of the epithelium of the small
intestine.[1] (A few may also be found sporadically in the cecum and
appendix.) They are identified microscopically by their location just
below the intestinal stem cells in the intestinal glands and the large
eosinophilic refractile granules that occupy most of their cytoplasm.
These granules consist of several anti-microbial compounds and other
compounds that are known to be important in immunity and host-
defense. When exposed to bacteria or bacterial antigens, Paneth cells
secrete some of these compounds into the lumen of the intestinal gland,
thereby contributing to maintenance of the gastrointestinal barrier.
Paneth cells are named after Joseph Paneth (18571890), an Austrian