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Susanne Hiller-Sturmhöfel, Ph.D., is a scientific research editor that Alcohol health and wellness & research study World. Andrzej Bartke, Ph.D., is professor and also chairman of physiology at southerly Illinois University school of Medicine, Carbondale, Illinois
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A plethora of hormone regulate numerous of the body’s functions, including growth and also development, metabolism, electrolyte balances, and reproduction. Many glands throughout the body create hormones. The hypothalamus produces several releasing and also inhibiting hormones that act top top the pituitary gland, stimulating the release of pituitary hormones. Of the pituitary hormones, numerous act on various other glands located in miscellaneous regions that the body, whereas various other pituitary hormones directly impact their target organs. Various other hormone-producing glands transparent the body incorporate the adrenal glands, i m sorry primarily create cortisol; the gonads (i.e., ovaries and testes), which create sex hormones; the thyroid, which produces thyroid hormone; the parathyroid, i m sorry produces parathyroid hormone; and the pancreas, which produces insulin and also glucagon. Many of these hormones are part of regulatory hormone cascades involving a hypothalamic hormone, one or 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, biological regulation, hypothalamus-pituitary axis, pituitary-adrenal axis, pituitary-thyroid axis, literary works review

For the human body to role properly, its assorted parts and also organs must communicate with each various other to ensure the a continuous internal setting (i.e., homeostasis) is maintained. Because that example, no the body temperature no one the level of salts and minerals (i.e., electrolytes) in the blood have to fluctuate past preset limits. Communication amongst various areas of the body also is vital for allowing the biology to respond as necessary to any changes in the internal and external environments. 2 systems help ensure communication: the concerned system and also the hormonal (i.e., neuroendocrine) system. The nervous system generally allows rapid transmission (i.e., within fractions of seconds) that information in between different human body regions. Conversely, hormone communication, which counts on the production and release of hormone from assorted 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 regulation actions. Thus, the two interaction systems match each other. In addition, both equipment interact: Stimuli native the concerned system have the right to influence the release of details hormones and vice versa.

Generally speaking, hormones control the growth, development, and metabolism the the body; the electrolyte ingredient of bodily fluids; and also reproduction. This article provides review of the hormone systems involved in those regulatory processes. The article first summarizes few of the straightforward characteristics of hormone-mediated interaction within the body, then reviews the assorted glands affiliated in those processes and the significant hormones they produce. For more in-depth information on those hormones, the reader must consult endocrinology textbooks (e.g., Constanti et al. 1998; Wilson et al. 1998). Finally, the write-up presents miscellaneous endocrine equipment in i m sorry hormones created in numerous organs cooperate to attain the wanted regulatory effects. The discussions focus primarily top top the system responses in normal, healthy and balanced people. For information concerning alcohol’s results on several of the hormone systems, the leader is described subsequent write-ups in this concern of Alcohol health and wellness & study World.

What room Hormones?

Hormones are molecules that are developed by endocrine glands, including the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, adrenal glands, gonads, (i.e., testes and also ovaries), thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, and also pancreas (see number 1). The ax “endocrine” suggests that in solution to details stimuli, the commodities of those glands are released into the bloodstream.1 The hormones climate are brought via the blood to your target cells. Part hormones have only a couple of specific target cells, whereas various other hormones affect numerous cell species throughout the body. The target cells for each hormone are identified by the existence of certain docking molecule (i.e., receptors) for the hormone that are situated either on the cell surface ar or within the cell. The interaction between the hormone and also its receptor triggers a cascade the biochemical reactions in the target cell that at some point modify the cell’s duty or activity.

Mechanisms of Action

Several classes of hormones exist, consisting of steroids, amino mountain derivatives, and also polypeptides and proteins. Those hormone classes different in their general molecular frameworks (e.g., size and also chemical properties). As a result of the structure differences, their mechanisms of action (e.g., even if it is they can enter their target cells and how lock modulate the task of those cells) additionally differ. Steroids, i beg your pardon are created by the gonads and part of the adrenal gland (i.e., the adrenal cortex), have actually a molecular structure comparable to that of cholesterol. The molecules can go into their target cells and interact with receptors in the liquid that fills the cabinet (i.e., the cytoplasm) or in the cabinet nucleus. The hormone-receptor complexes then tie to details regions the the cell’s hereditary material (i.e., the DNA), in order to regulating the task of particular hormone-responsive genes.

Amino mountain derivatives are modified execution of few of the structure blocks the proteins. The thyroid gland and also another region of the adrenal glands (i.e., the adrenal medulla) create this type of hormone (i.e., the amino acid derivatives). Choose steroids, amino mountain derivatives can get in the cell, wherein they connect with receptor proteins the are currently associated with certain DNA regions. The interaction modifies the activity of the influenced genes.

Polypeptide and protein hormones space chains the amino acids of various lengths (from three to number of hundred amino acids). These hormones are discovered primarily in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and also pancreas. In some instances, they are derived from inactive precursors, or pro-hormones, which have the right to be cleaved right into one or more active hormones. Because of their chemical structure, the polypeptide and also protein hormone cannot enter cells. Instead, they interact with receptors on the cabinet surface. The interaction initiates biochemical changes in either the cell’s membrane or interior, eventually modifying the cell’s activity or function.

Regulation that Hormone Activity

To maintain the body’s homeostasis and also respond appropriately to transforms in the environment, hormone production and also secretion should be strict controlled. To attain this control, plenty of bodily functions are regulated no by a single hormone however by number of hormones that manage each other (see number 2). Because that example, for many hormone systems, the hypothalamus secretes so-called publication hormones, which space transported via the blood to the pituitary gland. There, the releasing hormones induce the production and also secretion of pituitary hormones, which consequently are transported through 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 release of the hormones that ultimately influence the organs targeted by the hormone cascade.

Constant feedback indigenous the target glands to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland ensures the the task of the hormone system associated remains within ideal boundaries. Thus, in most cases, an adverse feedback mechanisms exist through which hormones released by the target glands affect the pituitary gland and/or hypothalamus (see figure 2). When certain predetermined blood levels of those hormones room reached, the hypothalamus and/or the pituitary end hormone release, thereby transforming off the cascade. In some instances, a so-called short-loop feedback occurs, in which pituitary hormones straight act ago on the hypothalamus.

The sensitivity v which these an adverse feedback systems operate (i.e., the target hormone levels the are required to revolve off hypothalamic or pituitary hormone release) can readjust at different physiological states or step of life. For example, the gradual reduction in sensitivity the the hypothalamus and pituitary to an adverse feedback by gonadal steroid hormone plays vital role in sexual maturation.

Although an unfavorable feedback is more common, part hormone solution are controlled by positive feedback mechanisms, in i beg your pardon a target gland hormone acts ago 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 term period: raising estrogen level in the blood in the interim stimulate, rather than inhibit, hormone release from the pituitary and also hypothalamus, thereby additional increasing estrogen levels and eventually bring about ovulation. Together a system requires a details threshold level, however, in ~ which the hopeful feedback loop is turned turn off in bespeak to maintain a secure system.

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

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

The Hypothalamus and also Its Hormones

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

Because the hypothalamus is component of the main nervous system, the hypothalamic hormones in reality are created by nerve cells (i.e., neurons). In addition, since signals from various other neurons deserve to modulate the release of hypothalamic hormones, the hypothalamus serves as the significant link in between the nervous and also endocrine systems. For example, the hypothalamus receives info from higher mind centers that respond to various eco-friendly signals. Consequently, hypothalamic role is influenced by both the external and internal environments and by hormone feedback. Stimuli from the external setting that indirectly influence hypothalamic duty include the light-dark cycle; temperature; signal from other members of the exact same species; and a wide range of visual, auditory, olfactory, and also sensory stimuli. The communication between other brain areas and the hypothalamus, i m sorry conveys information about the internal environment, involves electrochemical signal transmission v molecules dubbed neurotransmitters (e.g., aspartate, dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, glutamate, norepinephrine, and also serotonin). The facility interplay the the plot of various neurotransmitters regulates the production and release of hormones 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). Since they typically promote or inhibit the release of hormone from the pituitary gland, hypothalamic hormones are frequently called publication or inhibiting hormones. The major releasing and also inhibiting hormones incorporate the complying with (also check out table, p. 156):

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

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

Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), i beg your pardon is component of the hormone system managing the metabolic procedures of every cells and also which contributes to the hormonal regulation the lactation

Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), i beg your pardon is vital component that the system cultivating the organism’s growth

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

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

The Pituitary and also Its major Hormones

The pituitary (also sometimes called the hypophysis) is a gland about the size of a small marble and also is located in the mind directly below the hypothalamus. The pituitary gland is composed of 2 parts: the anterior pituitary and the posterior pituitary.

The Anterior Pituitary

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

The first three that those hormones—ACTH, gonadotropins, and also TSH—act on other glands. Thus, ACTH stimulates the adrenal cortex to develop corticosteroid hormones—primarily cortisol—as well as tiny amounts the female and also male sex hormones. The gonadotropins make up two molecules, luteinizing hormone (LH) and also follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). These 2 hormones control the manufacturing of female and also male sex hormones in the ovaries and also testes and the manufacturing of the germ cells—that is, the egg cells (i.e., ova) and sperm cells (i.e., spermatozoa). TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to produce and also release thyroid hormone. The remaining two pituitary hormones, GH and also prolactin, directly influence their target organs.

Growth Hormone

GH is the many abundant of the pituitary hormones. As the surname implies, it plays a pivotal role in managing the body’s growth and development. Because that example, that stimulates the linear development of the bones; disclosure the growth of interior organs, fat (i.e., adipose) tissue, connective tissue, endocrine glands, and also muscle; and also controls the advance of the reproductive organs. Accordingly, the GH levels in the blood room highest during 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 contribute to some symptoms the aging.

In addition to its growth-promoting role, GH affect carbohydrate, protein, and also fat (i.e., lipid) metabolism. Thus, GH boosts the levels of the sugar glucose in the blood by to reduce glucose absorb by muscle cells and also adipose tissue and by promoting glucose manufacturing (i.e., gluconeogenesis) indigenous precursor molecules in the liver. (These actions are opposite come those the the hormone insulin, which is disputed in the section “The Pancreas and Its Hormones,” p. 160.) GH likewise enhances the absorb of amino acids from the blood into cells, and their incorporation into proteins, and also stimulates the break down of lipids in adipose tissue.

To elicit these miscellaneous effects, GH modulates the tasks of plenty of target organs, consisting of the liver, kidneys, bone, cartilage, skeleton 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 manufacturing of a molecule referred to as insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the liver and kidneys. The blood then transports IGF-1 come the target organs, whereby it binding to certain receptors on the cells. This interaction then may lead to the increased DNA production and cell division that underlie the expansion process.

Two hypothalamic hormones manage GH release: (1) GHRH, which stimulates GH release, and (2) somatostatin, which inhibits GH release. This regulatory mechanism also involves a short-loop feedback component, whereby GH acts on the hypothalamus to stimulate somatostatin release. In addition, GH release is intensified by stress, such together low blood sugar levels (i.e., hypoglycemia) or major exercise, and by the start of deep sleep.

Acute and chronic alcohol usage have been presented to minimize the level of GH and also IGF-1 in the blood. Both results have to be observed in animals as well as in humans. Acute alcohol management also reduces GH cheap in an answer to other stimuli that usually enhance the hormone’s release. Those deleterious impacts of alcohol might be an especially harmful come adolescents, who need GH because that normal advance and puberty. (For an ext information top top alcohol’s effects on puberty and growth, watch the short article by Dees and colleagues, pp. 165–169.)


Together with various other hormones, prolactin plays a central role in the development of the mrs breast and also in the initiation and maintenance of lactation after ~ childbirth. Prolactin’s function in men, however, is not well understood, although excessive prolactin release deserve to lead to lessened sex drive (i.e., libido) and impotence. Number of factors manage prolactin release from the anterior pituitary. For example, prolactin is exit in increasing quantities in solution to the increase in estrogen levels in the blood the occurs during pregnancy. In education women, prolactin is released in solution to suckling by the infant. Numerous releasing and inhibitory components from the hypothalamus additionally control prolactin release. The most vital of those determinants is dopamine, which has actually an inhibitory effect.

Alcohol consumption by parenting women can influence lactation both with its impacts on the relax of prolactin and oxytocin (see the complying with section) and through its effects on the milk-producing (i.e., mammary) glands and the ingredient of the milk. (For an ext information ~ above alcohol’s effects on lactation, see the article by Heil and also Subramanian, pp. 178–184.)

The Posterior Pituitary

The posterior pituitary does not produce its own hormones; instead, it stores two hormones—vasopressin and oxytocin—that are developed by neurons in the hypothalamus. Both hormones collection at the ends of the neurons, i m sorry are located in the hypothalamus and extend come the posterior pituitary.

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

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

The Adrenal Glands and also Their Hormones

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

The primary glucocorticoid in people is cortisol (also dubbed hydro-cortisone), i beg your pardon helps control carbohydrate, protein, and also lipid metabolism. For example, cortisol increases glucose levels in the blood by stimulating gluconeogenesis in the liver and promotes the formation of glycogen (i.e., a molecule that serves as the storage kind of glucose) in the liver. Cortisol likewise reduces glucose uptake right into muscle and adipose tissue, thereby opposing the impacts of insulin. Furthermore, in miscellaneous tissues, cortisol disclosure protein and lipid malfunction into assets (i.e., amino acids and glycerol, respectively) that have the right to be supplied for gluconeogenesis.

In addition to those metabolic activities, cortisol appears to protect the body against the deleterious effects of various stress factors, consisting of acute trauma, significant surgery, major infections, pain, blood loss, hypoglycemia, and emotional stress. Every one of these stress factors lead to drastic rises in the cortisol level in the blood. For civilization in who cortisol levels cannot increase (e.g., because they had actually their adrenal glands removed), also mild stress can be fatal. Finally, high doses of cortisol and also other corticosteroids can be provided medically to suppress tissue inflammation in solution to injuries and to mitigate the immune solution to international molecules.

The main mineralocorticoid in people is aldosterone, which likewise helps control the body’s water and also electrolyte balance. Its principal features are to maintain sodium and also to excrete potassium native the body. For example, aldosterone promotes the reabsorption of salt in the kidney, in order to reducing water excretion and increasing blood volume. Similarly, aldosterone reduce the ratio of sodium to potassium concentration in sweat and also saliva, thereby avoiding sodium loss via those routes. The effect can be highly helpful in warm climates, where lot sweating occurs.

In comparison to the glucocorticoids, pituitary, or hypothalamic, hormones carry out not regulate aldosterone release. Instead, that is managed primarily by one more 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 cells (i.e., ova in the ovaries and spermatozoa in the testes). Second, the gonads synthesize steroid sex hormones that are crucial for the development and duty of both female and also male reproductive offal and an additional sex qualities (e.g., the adult distribution of body hair, such as facial hair in men) and for pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation. Three species of sex hormone exist; each with different functions: (1) estrogens (e.g., estradiol), i m sorry exert feminizing effects; (2) progestogens (e.g., progesterone), which influence the uterus in preparation for and also during pregnancy; and (3) androgens (e.g., testosterone), which exert masculinizing effects. In enhancement to the reproductive functions, sex hormone play numerous essential duties throughout the body. Because that example, they affect the metabolism of carbohydrates and also lipids, the cardiovascular system, and bone growth and development.


The major estrogen is estradiol, which, in addition to small amounts that estrone and also estriol, is produced primarily in the ovaries. Various other production web page of estrogens incorporate the corpus luteum,2 the placenta, and the adrenal glands. In men and postmenopausal women, many estrogens present in the circulation are derived from the conversion of testicular, adrenal, and also ovarian androgens. The conversion occurs in peripheral tissues, mainly adipose tissue and skin.

The main duty of estrogens is to name: coordinates the normal advancement and work of the mrs genitalia and breasts. Throughout puberty, estrogens encourage the development of the uterus, breasts, and vagina; recognize the pattern of fat deposition and also 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 control the advance of secondary sexual characteristics. In adult women, the primary attributes of estrogens include regulating the term cycle, contributing come the hormonal regulation that pregnancy and also lactation, and maintaining woman libido. (For much more information ~ above the expression cycle and alcohol’s results on it, check out the post by Dees and also colleagues, pp. 165–169. For much more information ~ above alcohol’s impacts on the emerging fetus, see the short article by Gabriel and also colleagues, pp. 170–177.)

During menopause, estrogen manufacturing in the ovaries ceases. The resulting reduction in estrogen levels leads to symptoms such as hot flashes, sweating, pounding the the love (i.e., palpitations), boosted irritability, anxiety, depression, and also brittle bones (i.e., osteoporosis). The management of estrogens (i.e., hormone instead of therapy) deserve to alleviate those symptoms and also reduce the threat of osteoporosis and also coronary heart condition in postmenopausal women. At the same time, however, hormone replacement therapy may boost the threat of certain varieties of cancer (e.g., breast cancer and also uterine cancer). Alcohol usage has been displayed to increase estrogen levels in the blood and also urine, even in premenopausal women who drink 2 drinks or less per work (Reichman et al. 1993) and also in postmenopausal women that drink much less than one drink every day (Gavaler and Van Thiel 1992). This findings imply that middle alcohol usage may help prevent osteoporosis and coronary heart an illness in postmenopausal women. Various other studies, however, have actually detected no continuous association between alchol consumption and also increased estrogen levels (Dorgan et al. 1994; Purohit 1998). (For more information on the results of alcohol top top postmenopausal women, view the write-ups by Longnecker and Tseng, pp. 185–189, and also Gavaler, pp. 220–227.)


The ovaries create progestogens during a certain phase that the menstrual cycle and in the placenta for most of pregnancy. Progestogens reason changes in the uterine lining in preparation for pregnancy and—together through estrogens—stimulate the development of the mammary glands in the breasts in preparation for lactation. The primary progestogen is progesterone.


The major androgenic steroid is testosterone, i m sorry is secreted primarily from the testes however also, in little amounts, native the adrenal glands (both in men and also women) and from the ovaries. The main duty is to wake up the advance and expansion of the male genital tract. In addition, testosterone has solid protein anabolic activities—that is, it promotes protein generation, which leader to raised muscle mass. The details functions of testosterone vary during different developmental stages, together follows:

In the fetus, testosterone generally ensures the development 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 together the pubertal growth spurt and also eventual cessation of expansion at adult height; deepening the the voice; development of facial, pubic, axillary, and also body hair; and increase in muscularity and also strength

In the adult male, testosterone primarily serves to preserve masculinity, libido, and also sexual potency and also regulate sperm production. Testosterone levels decline slightly v age, return the autumn is no as drastic as the palliation in estrogen levels in women during menopause. (For info on alcohol’s results on male reproduction, watch the write-up by Emanuele and also Emanuele, pp.195–201.)

The Thyroid and Its Hormones

The thyroid gland, which consists of two lobes, is situated in front of the windpipe (i.e., trachea), just below the voice box (i.e., larynx). The gland produces two structurally related hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), that are iodinated derivatives that the amino acid tyrosine. Both hormone are jointly referred to as “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 produced by the thyroid is converted right into T3 in the liver and also kidneys.

Thyroid hormone in general serves to rise the line of almost all human body tissues. For example, thyroid hormone stimulates the manufacturing of particular proteins affiliated in warmth generation in the body, a duty that is important for preserving body temperature in cold climates. Moreover, thyroid hormone promotes several various other metabolic processes involving carbohydrates, proteins, and also lipids that assist generate the power required for the body’s functions. In enhancement to those metabolic effects, thyroid hormone plays an essential role in the breakthrough of the central nervous system during late fetal and early postnatal developmental stages. Furthermore, thyroid hormone exerts an effect similar to the of GH on normal bone growth and also maturation. Finally, thyroid hormone is required for the normal development of teeth, skin, and also hair follicles as well as for the functioning of the nervous, cardiovascular, and also gastrointestinal systems.

In enhancement to thyroid hormone, specific cells (i.e., parafollicular C cells) in the thyroid gland develop calcitonin, a hormone the helps maintain normal calcium levels in the blood. Special, calcitonin lowers calcium levels in the blood by reducing the relax of calcium from the bones; inhibiting the constant erosion of skeletal (i.e., bone resorption), which additionally releases calcium; and inhibiting the reabsorption that calcium in the kidneys. Those effects are opposite to those the parathyroid hormone (PTH), i beg your pardon is debated in the following section.

The Parathyroid Glands and Their Hormones

The parathyroid glands are 4 pea-sized bodies located behind the thyroid gland that develop PTH. This hormone rises calcium levels in the blood, help to maintain bone quality and also an enough supply of calcium, which is needed for many functions throughout the body (e.g., muscle movement and signal infection within cells). Specifically, PTH reasons reabsorption the calcium from and also excretion that phosphate in the urine. PTH also promotes the release 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 indigenous the food in the cradle tract. Continual with PTH’s main role in calcium metabolism, the release of this hormone is not controlled by pituitary hormones however by the calcium level in the blood. Thus, short calcium levels stimulate PTH release, whereas high calcium levels suppress it.

Many that the attributes of PTH need or are helped with by a substance referred to as 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol, a derivative that vitamin D. In addition, many other hormone are connected in regulation the body’s calcium levels and bone metabolism, including estrogens, glucocorticoids, and also growth hormone. (For more information ~ above the hormonal control of bone and also calcium metabolism and on alcohol’s impacts on those systems, view the article by Sampson, pp. 190–194.)

The Pancreas and also Its Hormones

The kidnize is located in the abdomen, behind the stomach, and also serves 2 distinctly various functions. First, the acts as an exocrine organ, due to the fact that the majority of pancreatic cells produce various digestive enzymes that space secreted into the gut and which are necessary for the effective digestion of food. Second, the kidnize serves together an endocrine organ, because details cell clusters (i.e., the Islets the Langerhans) develop two hormones—insulin and also glucagon—that space released right into the blood and play pivotal roles in blood glucose regulation.


Insulin is produced in the beta cell of the Islets the Langerhans. Its primary purpose is to reduced 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 forms of power (e.g., glycogen, proteins, and also lipids) and also suppresses the failure 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 adipose tissue. Specifically, insulin has actually the following metabolic effects:

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

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

Increases fat synthesis in the liver and adipose tissue, in order to lowering the level of glycerol, which additionally can offer as a beginning material because that gluconeogenesis.

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


The second blood-sugar–regulating pancreatic hormone is glucagon, which is created in the alpha cell of the Islets of Langerhans. Glucagon boosts blood glucose levels; accordingly, its main actions normally are opposite come those that insulin. Because that example, glucagon increases glycogen malfunction and gluconeogenesis in the liver as well as the malfunction of lipids and also proteins. The release of glucagon is regulated by numerous of the same determinants as is insulin’s release, yet sometimes v the the contrary effect. Thus, boost in blood glucose level stimulates insulin release but inhibits glucagon release.

A finely tuned balance between the tasks of insulin and glucagon is vital for maintaining blood sugar levels. Accordingly, disturbances of that balance, such together an insulin deficiency or an i can not qualify of the body to answer adequately to insulin, an outcome in serious disorders, such together diabetes mellitus. (For much more information ~ above diabetes and on alcohol’s impacts on insulin, glucagon, and also the management of diabetes, view the post by Emanuele and colleagues, pp. 211–219.)

Hormone Systems

As this write-up has suggested in explicate the various endocrine glands and also their hormones, some hormones are regulated directly by the metabolic pathways the they influence. Because that example, blood street levels directly control insulin and also glucagon relax by the pancreas, and also calcium level in the blood regulate PTH release. Conversely, plenty of hormones created by target glands are regulated by pituitary hormones, which in turn are managed by hypothalamic hormones. Examples of together regulatory hormonal cascades encompass the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, and also the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroidal (HPT) axis, i beg your pardon are described briefly in the complying with sections (see number 3, p.162).

Schematic representation of the HPA, HPG, and also HPT axes. For each system, the hypothalamus secretes releasing hormones (i.e., CRH, GnRH, and TRH) the act ~ above the pituitary gland. In solution to those stimuli, the pituitary gland releases ACTH, gonadotropins (i.e., LH and FSH), or TSH. ACTH activates the adrenal glands to release cortisol, i m sorry induces metabolic effects. Cortisol also acts earlier on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland by an unfavorable feedback. LH and also FSH in females stimulate the ovaries to create estrogens and also progesterone. Relying on the phase of the menstrual cycle, those hormones act back on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in one of two people a stimulatory or inhibitory manner. In men, LH stimulates the testes to release testosterone, which feeds back on the hypothalamus and pituitary. Finally, TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to create the thyroid hormones T3 and T4, both of which rise cell metabolism as well as feed earlier 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 that the HPA axis, i m sorry regulates various metabolic functions, is initiated with the relax of CRH indigenous the hypothalamus. This relax occurs in response to assorted stimuli, including almost any type of physical or emotional stress; during the typical sleep-wake cycle; and in response to certain neurotransmitters. CRH then stimulates the anterior pituitary to create ACTH. (In enhancement to CRH, AVP from the hypothalamus likewise can stimulate ACTH release). ACTH, in turn, activates adrenal hormone production, generally of cortisol, i beg your pardon mediates the particular physiological results of this hormone system.

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

Any disturbances in the HPA axis can result in serious medical consequences. Because that example, inadequate hormone manufacturing by the adrenal cortex causes Addison’s disease, i m sorry is characterized by muscle weakness, dehydration, ns of appetite (i.e., anorexia), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, tiredness, and also malaise. Patients with this condition exhibit low levels that plasma cortisol but high levels of ACTH. The rise in ACTH levels represents a vain effort by the pituitary to stimulate hormone production in the unresponsive adrenal cortex.

Equally deleterious is the excessive glucocorticoid manufacturing that outcomes from overfill ACTH relax (i.e., Cushing’s syndrome). Those patients endure symptoms such as muscle weakness and also wasting, back pain indigenous osteoporosis, a propensity to bruise easily, redistribution of human body fat (i.e., a rounded “moon” face, significant abdomen, and thin legs), and also various emotional disturbances. Since of the negative feedback system of the HPA axis, the patient’s cortisol levels room high and also the ACTH levels are low.

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

The HPG Axis

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

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

In women, during the expression cycle, LH and also FSH stimulate the ovarian follicle that consists of the maturing egg to develop estradiol. ~ ovulation has occurred, LH also promotes manufacturing of progesterone and also estradiol by the corpus luteum. Both hormones get involved in a an unfavorable feedback system through most of the term cycle, suppressing GnRH release from the hypothalamus and LH release from the pituitary. Shortly before ovulation, however, a hopeful feedback system is activated through which estradiol actually improves LH release from the pituitary. The result surge in LH levels ultimately leads come ovulation, the development of the corpus luteum, and progesterone release. Progesterone exerts a an unfavorable feedback ~ above LH and also FSH release, bring about LH levels to decline again. In enhancement to those mechanisms, FSH relax from the pituitary is regulation by inhibin, a substance created by certain cells in the ovarian follicle.

Both acute and also chronic alcohol consumption can interfere with the common functioning the the HPG axis, result in reduced fertility or even infertility in both men and women and in menstrual disturbances in women. (For an ext information on alcohol’s impacts on the HPG axis in women and also men, watch the write-ups by Dees and also colleagues, pp. 165–169, and also by Emanuele and also 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 are therefore vital for the organism to function normally. The secretion of TRH native the hypothalamus activates the HPT axis. After getting to the pituitary, TRH stimulates the relax of TSH, which consequently promotes the production and release of T4 and also T3 by the thyroid gland. Negative feed-back impacts of T4 and also T3 on both the hypothalamus and the pituitary manage the HPT system. (For a an overview of alcohol’s impacts on the HPT axis, watch sidebar, p. 163.)

One the the important hormonal systems regulating normal body functioning is the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis, which controls the management of all cells. As with other hormone systems, alcohol consumption under specific conditions have the right to modify the relax of hormones associated in this axis. In healthy nonalcoholics, alcohol intake does not appear to induce any far-reaching changes in the HPT axis (Emanuele and also Emanuele 1997). Conversely, some impacts of alcohol on the HPT axis have been it was observed in alcoholics. The effects differ depending upon the drinking status of the alcoholics studied. In alcoholics undergoing withdrawal, baseline level of thyroid hormone (i.e., T3 and also T4) in the blood differ only 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 result from alcohol’s influence on the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine produced in the hypothalamus acts not just as a neurotransmitter but likewise as a hormone in that it inhibits the release of both TSH and prolactin indigenous the pituitary. Alcohol has been displayed to boost dopaminergic task and thereby might suppress the TSH solution to TRH. This theory is supported by the truth that prolactin relax in an answer to TRH likewise is blunted in alcoholics experience withdrawal.

Alcohol’s impacts on the HPT axis are also more facility in abstinent alcoholics (Garbutt et al. 1995). In those people, the baseline levels of T3 and also sometimes T4 are reduced than in nonalcoholics. It is unclear, however, if this readjust represents a direct effect of long-term alcohol usage or outcomes from co-occurring alcohol-related illnesses, since thyroid hormone levels room often reduced in patients v acute or chronic non-thyroid–related illnesses, such as sepsis, burns, or major trauma. In enhancement to the lessened thyroid hormone levels, however, the TSH an answer to TRH stays blunted in abstinent alcoholics, vice versa, the prolactin an answer to TRH has actually returned to normal levels. This observation suggests that a aspect other than dopamine most likely contributes to this effect, return the specific mechanisms space unknown.

Finally, some intriguing result have argued that abnormal responses the the HPT axis may represent a marker because that a person’s vulnerability come alcoholism. Thus, some human being who space at high threat for developing alcoholism, such as nonalcoholic young of alcoholic fathers, often tend to exhibition a blunted TSH response to TRH (Emanuele and Emanuele 1997). These observations still require additional investigation, however, for researchers to totally understand your significance.

—Susanne Hiller-Sturmhöfel and also Andrzej Bartke


The neuroendocrine system is a highly complex and tightly regulated network of hormones released by endocrine glands throughout the body. The level of several of the hormones room regulated in a reasonably straightforward path by the end products that they influence. Thus, blood sugar levels mostly regulate insulin and also glucagon release by the pancreas. Other hormones (e.g., those the the HPA, HPG, and also HPT axes) are parts of hormone cascades whose activities are controlled through fancy feedback mechanisms. In addition, countless indirect interaction exist in between the assorted hormone solution governing human body functioning. For example, hormone such together GH and also thyroid hormone, v their impacts on moving metabolism, may modify blood street levels and, accordingly, insulin release. Similarly, alcohol’s impacts on one hormone system may have actually indirect aftermath for various other systems, in order to contributing to alcohol’s impacts on the functioning of practically every organ in the body. The is crucial to store this interconnectedness the neuroendocrine systems in psychic when examining alcohol’s affect on assorted hormones, i beg your pardon are defined in the remaining short articles in this issue.

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

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