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Susanne Hiller-Sturmhöfel, Ph.D., is a scientific research editor the Alcohol wellness & research World. Andrzej Bartke, Ph.D., is professor and chairman that physiology at southern Illinois University institution of Medicine, Carbondale, Illinois
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A plethora of hormone regulate numerous of the body’s functions, consisting of growth and development, metabolism, electrolyte balances, and also reproduction. Plenty of glands throughout the body produce hormones. The hypothalamus produces numerous releasing and also inhibiting hormones the act on the pituitary gland, stimulating the relax of pituitary hormones. Of the pituitary hormones, several act on other glands situated in assorted regions the the body, whereas various other pituitary hormones directly impact their target organs. Various other hormone-producing glands throughout the body encompass the adrenal glands, which primarily develop cortisol; the gonads (i.e., ovaries and also testes), which develop sex hormones; the thyroid, i m sorry produces thyroid hormone; the parathyroid, which produces parathyroid hormone; and also the pancreas, i beg your pardon produces insulin and also glucagon. Countless of these hormones are part of regulatory hormonal cascades including a hypothalamic hormone, one or an ext pituitary hormones, and also 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 duty properly, its miscellaneous parts and also organs must interact with each various other to ensure the a consistent internal environment (i.e., homeostasis) is maintained. For example, no the body temperature nor the levels of salts and also minerals (i.e., electrolytes) in the blood have to fluctuate past preset limits. Communication amongst various areas of the body also is important for enabling the organism to respond accordingly to any kind of changes in the internal and external environments. Two systems help ensure communication: the concerned system and also the hormonal (i.e., neuroendocrine) system. The nervous system generally permits rapid infection (i.e., within fractions the seconds) of information between different human body regions. Conversely, hormone communication, which depends on the production and also release of hormones from miscellaneous glands and on the transfer of those hormone via the bloodstream, is much better suited for situations that require much more widespread and also longer lasting regulation actions. Thus, the two interaction systems match each other. In addition, both systems interact: Stimuli indigenous the worried system can influence the release of certain hormones and also vice versa.

Generally speaking, hormones regulate the growth, development, and metabolism the the body; the electrolyte composition of bodily fluids; and reproduction. This article provides an introduction of the hormone systems affiliated in those regulation processes. The article first summarizes some of the simple characteristics of hormone-mediated communication within the body, climate reviews the assorted glands involved 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 write-up presents assorted endocrine equipment in i m sorry hormones created in number of organs cooperate to achieve the preferred regulatory effects. The discussions emphasis primarily top top the system responses in normal, healthy and balanced people. Because that information concerning alcohol’s effects on few of the hormone systems, the reader is described subsequent short articles in this concern of Alcohol health & research study World.

What space Hormones?

Hormones are molecules the 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 figure 1). The term “endocrine” suggests that in an answer to specific stimuli, the assets of those glands space released right into the bloodstream.1 The hormones then are carried via the blood to your target cells. Some hormones have only a couple of specific target cells, whereas various other hormones impact numerous cell species throughout the body. The target cells because that each hormone are identified by the presence of details docking molecules (i.e., receptors) for the hormone that are located either top top the cell surface ar or within the cell. The interaction between the hormone and its receptor root cause a cascade that biochemical reactions in the target cabinet that ultimately modify the cell’s duty or activity.

Mechanisms of Action

Several classes of hormones exist, including steroids, amino acid derivatives, and also polypeptides and proteins. Those hormone classes differ in their basic molecular structures (e.g., size and also chemical properties). As a result of the structure differences, their mechanisms of action (e.g., whether they can get in their target cells and how lock modulate the task of those cells) likewise differ. Steroids, which are created by the gonads and part of the adrenal gland (i.e., the adrenal cortex), have actually a molecular structure similar to that of cholesterol. The molecule can go into their target cells and interact with receptors in the liquid that fills the cell (i.e., the cytoplasm) or in the cell nucleus. The hormone-receptor complexes then bind to particular regions that the cell’s hereditary material (i.e., the DNA), thereby regulating the task of details hormone-responsive genes.

Amino mountain derivatives space modified versions of few of the building blocks the proteins. The thyroid gland and also another region of the adrenal glands (i.e., the adrenal medulla) produce this form of hormone (i.e., the amino acid derivatives). Choose steroids, amino mountain derivatives can enter the cell, whereby they connect with receptor proteins that are currently associated with certain DNA regions. The communication modifies the activity of the affected genes.

Polypeptide and protein hormones are chains the amino acids of miscellaneous lengths (from 3 to number of hundred amino acids). This hormones are found primarily in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and pancreas. In some instances, they are derived from inactive precursors, or pro-hormones, which deserve to be cleaved right into one or more active hormones. Since of their chemical structure, the polypeptide and also protein hormones cannot enter cells. Instead, they interact with receptor on the cell surface. The communication initiates biochemical alters in one of two people the cell’s membrane or interior, eventually editing the cell’s task or function.

Regulation the Hormone Activity

To preserve the body’s homeostasis and also respond accordingly to transforms in the environment, hormone production and also secretion need to be strict controlled. To attain this control, plenty of bodily functions are regulated no by a solitary hormone yet by numerous hormones that regulate each other (see number 2). Because that example, for countless hormone systems, the hypothalamus secretes so-called release hormones, which room transported via the blood come the pituitary gland. There, the releasing hormone induce the production and secretion of pituitary hormones, which consequently are transported through the blood to your target glands (e.g., the adrenal glands, gonads, or thyroid). In those glands, the interaction of the pituitary hormones through their respective target cells results in the relax of the hormones that eventually influence the organs targeted by the hormone cascade.

Constant feedback native the target glands to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland ensures the the task of the hormone system connected remains within suitable boundaries. Thus, in many cases, an adverse feedback instrument exist by which hormones exit by the target glands affect the pituitary gland and/or hypothalamus (see number 2). When specific predetermined blood level of those hormones are reached, the hypothalamus and/or the pituitary ceases hormone release, thereby transforming off the cascade. In some instances, a so-called short-loop feedback occurs, in i beg your pardon pituitary hormones directly act earlier on the hypothalamus.

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

Although an unfavorable feedback is an ext common, part hormone solution are regulated by confident feedback mechanisms, in which a target gland hormone acts back on the hypothalamus and/or pituitary to boost the relax of hormones that stimulate the secretion of the target gland hormone. One such device occurs during a woman’s term period: boosting estrogen level in the blood temporary stimulate, fairly than inhibit, hormone relax from the pituitary and hypothalamus, thereby more increasing estrogen levels and also eventually bring about ovulation. Together a system requires a particular threshold level, however, at which the positive feedback loop is turned off in stimulate to keep a steady system.

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

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

The Hypothalamus and Its Hormones

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

Because the hypothalamus is component of the central nervous system, the hypothalamic hormones actually are created by nerve cell (i.e., neurons). In addition, because signals from various other neurons deserve to modulate the relax of hypothalamic hormones, the hypothalamus serves as the significant link between the nervous and endocrine systems. For example, the hypothalamus receives details from higher brain centers that respond come various ecological signals. Consequently, hypothalamic duty is affected by both the external and also internal environments as well as by hormone feedback. Stimuli from the external atmosphere that indirectly affect hypothalamic duty include the light-dark cycle; temperature; signal from other members of the very same species; and also a wide range of visual, auditory, olfactory, and also sensory stimuli. The communication in between other mind areas and also the hypothalamus, which conveys information about the interior environment, entails electrochemical signal transmission with molecules dubbed neurotransmitters (e.g., aspartate, dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, glutamate, norepinephrine, and serotonin). The complex interplay of the actions of various neurotransmitters regulates the production and also release of hormone from the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamic hormones room released into blood ship that attach the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland (i.e., the hypothalamic-hypophyseal portal system). Because they normally promote or inhibit the relax of hormone from the pituitary gland, hypothalamic hormone are commonly called release or inhibiting hormones. The major releasing and inhibiting hormones encompass the following (also see table, p. 156):

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

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

Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), which is part of the hormone system controlling the metabolic procedures of all cells and also which contributes come the hormone regulation of lactation

Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), i m sorry is an important component of the system promoting the organism’s growth

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

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

The Pituitary and also Its significant Hormones

The pituitary (also sometimes dubbed the hypophysis) is a gland about the size of a tiny marble and also is located in the mind directly listed below the hypothalamus. The pituitary gland is composed of two parts: the anterior pituitary and 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 produce target gland hormones or directly affect target organs. The pituitary hormones include adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH); gonadotropins; thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), additionally called thyrotropin; expansion hormone (GH); and also prolactin.

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

Growth Hormone

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

In addition to that is growth-promoting role, GH influence carbohydrate, protein, and fat (i.e., lipid) metabolism. Thus, GH increases the levels of the street glucose in the blood by reducing glucose absorb by muscle cells and also adipose tissue and by cultivating glucose production (i.e., gluconeogenesis) indigenous precursor molecules in the liver. (These actions are opposite come those the the hormone insulin, i beg your pardon is discussed in the ar “The Pancreas and Its Hormones,” p. 160.) GH likewise enhances the uptake of amino acids from the blood right into cells, and also their incorporation into proteins, and stimulates the breakdown of lipids in adipose tissue.

To elicit these miscellaneous effects, GH mediate the activities of numerous target organs, consisting of the liver, kidneys, bone, cartilage, bones muscle, and also adipose cells. For few of these effects, GH acts straight 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, where 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 growth process.

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

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


Together with various other hormones, prolactin plays a main role in the advancement of the woman breast and in the initiation and maintenance of lactation ~ childbirth. Prolactin’s role in men, however, is no well understood, although too much prolactin release have the right to lead to reduced sex journey (i.e., libido) and impotence. Several factors manage prolactin relax from the anterior pituitary. Because that example, prolactin is released in increasing quantities in solution to the rise in estrogen levels in the blood the occurs during pregnancy. In parenting women, prolactin is released in an answer to suckling by the infant. Numerous releasing and also inhibitory components from the hypothalamus also control prolactin release. The most important of those determinants is dopamine, which has actually an inhibitory effect.

Alcohol consumption by nursing women have the right to influence lactation both through its effects on the relax of prolactin and oxytocin (see the following section) and also through its effects on the milk-producing (i.e., mammary) glands and the ingredient of the milk. (For much more information top top alcohol’s effects on lactation, check out the short article by Heil and Subramanian, pp. 178–184.)

The Posterior Pituitary

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

Vasopressin, also called arginine vasopressin (AVP), plays critical role in the body’s water and electrolyte economy. Thus, AVP release promotes the reabsorption that water indigenous the pee in the kidneys. With this mechanism, the human body reduces urine volume and also conserves water. AVP release from the pituitary is managed by the concentration of sodium in the blood and also by blood volume and also blood pressure. Because that example, high blood push or enhanced blood volume outcomes in the inhibition the AVP release. Consequently, much more water is released with the urine, and also both blood pressure and blood volume are reduced. Alcohol additionally has been shown to inhibit AVP release. Conversely, certain other medicine (e.g., nicotine and morphine) rise AVP release, as do severe pain, fear, nausea, and general anesthesia, thereby resulting in lower pee production and water retention.

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

The Adrenal Glands and Their Hormones

The adrenal glands are little structures situated on height of the kidneys. Structurally, they consist of an outer layer (i.e., the cortex) and an inner great (i.e., the medulla). The adrenal cortex produces numerous hormones, primarily corticosteroids (i.e., glucocorticoids and also mineralocorticoids). The cortex is likewise the source of tiny amounts the sex hormones; those amounts, however, are insignificant contrasted with the quantities normally created by the ovaries and testes. The adrenal medulla generates two substances—adrenaline and noradrenaline—that are released as part of the fight-or-flight response to assorted stress factors.

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

In enhancement to those metabolic activities, cortisol shows up to protect the body against the deleterious effects of assorted stress factors, including acute trauma, major surgery, severe infections, pain, blood loss, hypoglycemia, and emotional stress. Every one of these stress determinants lead come drastic rises in the cortisol level in the blood. For world in who cortisol level cannot increase (e.g., because they had actually their adrenal glands removed), also mild stress deserve to be fatal. Finally, high sheep of cortisol and also other corticosteroids deserve to be provided medically come suppress tissue inflammation in response to injuries and also to minimize the immune solution to international molecules.

The primary mineralocorticoid in human beings is aldosterone, which likewise helps manage the body’s water and electrolyte balance. That principal features are to maintain sodium and to excrete potassium from the body. For example, aldosterone disclosure the reabsorption of salt in the kidney, in order to reducing water excretion and also increasing blood volume. Similarly, aldosterone to reduce the proportion of sodium to potassium concentrations in sweat and saliva, thereby staying clear of sodium loss via those routes. The impact can it is in highly valuable in warm climates, where much sweating occurs.

In contrast to the glucocorticoids, pituitary, or hypothalamic, hormones execute not manage aldosterone release. Instead, the is managed primarily by an additional hormone system, the reninangiotensin system, which additionally controls kidney function. In addition, the level of sodium and potassium in the blood influence aldosterone levels.

The Gonads and also Their Hormones

The gonads (i.e., the ovaries and testes) serve two major functions. First, they produce the germ cells (i.e., ova in the ovaries and also spermatozoa in the testes). Second, the gonads synthesize steroid sex hormones the are vital for the advance and function of both female and also male reproductive guts and an additional sex features (e.g., the adult distribution of human body hair, such together facial hair in men) as well as for pregnancy, childbirth, and also 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 impact the uterus in preparation for and also during pregnancy; and also (3) androgens (e.g., testosterone), i m sorry exert masculinizing effects. In addition to the reproductive functions, sex hormones play plenty of essential functions throughout the body. Because that example, they affect the line of carbohydrates and also lipids, the cardiovascular system, and also bone growth and also development.


The major estrogen is estradiol, which, in addition to little amounts the estrone and also estriol, is developed primarily in the ovaries. Various other production sites of estrogens incorporate the corpus luteum,2 the placenta, and also the adrenal glands. In men and postmenopausal women, most estrogens existing in the circulation are derived from the switch of testicular, adrenal, and also ovarian androgens. The conversion occurs in peripheral tissues, primarily adipose tissue and also skin.

The main function of estrogens is to coordinate the normal development and work of the woman genitalia and breasts. During puberty, estrogens encourage the development of the uterus, breasts, and vagina; recognize the pattern of fat deposition and distribution in the body that outcomes in the common female shape; control the pubertal expansion spurt and also cessation of expansion at adult height; and control the advancement of secondary sexual characteristics. In adult women, the primary features of estrogens incorporate regulating the expression cycle, contributing come the hormone regulation the pregnancy and lactation, and maintaining mrs libido. (For more information ~ above the expression cycle and alcohol’s results on it, check out the post by Dees and colleagues, pp. 165–169. For more information ~ above alcohol’s results on the arising fetus, check out the post by Gabriel and colleagues, pp. 170–177.)

During menopause, estrogen production in the ovaries ceases. The resulting reduction in estrogen levels leader to symptoms together as warm flashes, sweating, pounding of the love (i.e., palpitations), enhanced irritability, anxiety, depression, and brittle skeletal (i.e., osteoporosis). The administration of estrogens (i.e., hormone instead of therapy) have the right to alleviate those symptoms and reduce the hazard of osteoporosis and also coronary heart an illness in postmenopausal women. At the exact same time, however, hormone replacement treatment may boost the threat of certain species of cancer (e.g., chest cancer and also uterine cancer). Alcohol intake has been shown to rise estrogen levels in the blood and urine, also in premenopausal women who drink 2 drinks or much less per work (Reichman et al. 1993) and also in postmenopausal women that drink less than one drink per day (Gavaler and also Van Thiel 1992). This findings imply that center alcohol consumption may aid prevent osteoporosis and coronary heart condition in postmenopausal women. Various other studies, however, have actually detected no continual association between alchol consumption and increased estrogen levels (Dorgan et al. 1994; Purohit 1998). (For much more information on the effects of alcohol top top postmenopausal women, watch the posts by Longnecker and Tseng, pp. 185–189, and Gavaler, pp. 220–227.)


The ovaries develop progestogens during a particular phase the the menstrual cycle and in the placenta for most of pregnancy. Progestogens cause changes in the uterine lining in ready for pregnancy and—together through estrogens—stimulate the development of the mammary glands in the breasts in preparation for lactation. The main progestogen is progesterone.


The major androgenic steroid is testosterone, which is secreted primarily from the testes however also, in tiny amounts, from the adrenal glands (both in men and also women) and from the ovaries. That is main function is to wake up the breakthrough and expansion of the male genital tract. In addition, testosterone has solid protein anabolic activities—that is, it promotes protein generation, which leads to raised muscle mass. The particular functions the testosterone vary during various developmental stages, together follows:

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

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

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

The Thyroid and Its Hormones

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

Thyroid hormone in basic serves to rise the management of almost all body tissues. Because that example, thyroid hormone stimulates the manufacturing of details proteins affiliated in warmth generation in the body, a duty that is essential for maintaining body temperature in cold climates. Moreover, thyroid hormone disclosure several various other metabolic processes involving carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids that help generate the energy required because that the body’s functions. In addition to those metabolic effects, thyroid hormone plays an essential role in the advancement of the central nervous system during late fetal and also early postnatal developmental stages. Furthermore, thyroid hormone exerts one effect comparable to that of GH on common bone growth and maturation. Finally, thyroid hormone is forced for the normal advancement of teeth, skin, and hair follicles as well as for the to work of the nervous, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems.

In addition to thyroid hormone, details cells (i.e., parafollicular C cells) in the thyroid gland develop calcitonin, a hormone the helps keep normal calcium level in the blood. Specifics calcitonin lowers calcium levels in the blood by to reduce the relax of calcium indigenous the bones; inhibiting the consistent erosion of bones (i.e., bone resorption), which additionally releases calcium; and inhibiting the reabsorption that calcium in the kidneys. Those effects are opposite come those of parathyroid hormone (PTH), i beg your pardon 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 create PTH. This hormone rises calcium level in the blood, help to keep bone quality and also an sufficient supply the calcium, i beg your pardon is needed for numerous functions throughout the human body (e.g., muscle movement and also signal transmission within cells). Specifics PTH reasons reabsorption the calcium from and also excretion of phosphate in the urine. PTH additionally promotes the relax of stored calcium native the bones and also bone resorption, both the which boost calcium levels in the blood. Finally, PTH stimulates the absorption of calcium from the food in the cradle tract. Continual with PTH’s central role in calcium metabolism, the relax of this hormone is not managed by pituitary hormones however by the calcium level in the blood. Thus, low calcium levels stimulate PTH release, vice versa, high calcium level suppress it.

Many of the features of PTH need or are facilitated by a substance referred to as 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol, a derivative of vitamin D. In addition, plenty of other hormones are connected in regulating the body’s calcium levels and bone metabolism, consisting of estrogens, glucocorticoids, and also growth hormone. (For more information top top the hormonal manage of bone and calcium metabolism and on alcohol’s effects on those systems, see the short article by Sampson, pp. 190–194.)

The Pancreas and also Its Hormones

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


Insulin is created in the beta cell of the Islets the Langerhans. Its major purpose is to reduced blood glucose levels; in fact, insulin is the just blood sugar-lowering hormone in the body. To this end, insulin disclosure the formation of storage forms of energy (e.g., glycogen, proteins, and also lipids) and suppresses the failure of those save nutrients. Accordingly, the target organs of insulin are primarily those that are committed for energy storage, such together the liver, muscles, and adipose tissue. Special, insulin has the following metabolic effects:

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

Stimulates the move 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 synthetic in the liver and also adipose tissue, in order to lowering the levels of glycerol, which additionally can offer as a starting material for gluconeogenesis.

The release of insulin is regulated by assorted factors, consisting of blood glucose levels; various other islet hormone (e.g., glucagon); and, indirectly, other hormones that transform blood glucose level (e.g., GH, glucocorticoids, and thyroid hormone).


The second blood-sugar–regulating pancreatic hormone is glucagon, i m sorry is created in the alpha cell of the Islets the Langerhans. Glucagon boosts blood glucose levels; accordingly, its main actions usually are opposite come those the insulin. Because that example, glucagon boosts glycogen failure and gluconeogenesis in the liver as well as the breakdown of lipids and proteins. The release of glucagon is regulation by plenty of of the same components as is insulin’s release, but sometimes v the opposite effect. Thus, boost in blood glucose levels stimulates insulin release but inhibits glucagon release.

A finely tuned balance between the activities of insulin and glucagon is essential for preserving blood street levels. Accordingly, disturbances of the balance, such as an insulin deficiency or an inability of the human body to answer adequately to insulin, an outcome in serious disorders, such as diabetes mellitus. (For an ext information ~ above diabetes and on alcohol’s impacts on insulin, glucagon, and also the administration of diabetes, watch the write-up by Emanuele and colleagues, pp. 211–219.)

Hormone Systems

As this post has suggested in relenten the miscellaneous endocrine glands and their hormones, part hormones are controlled directly by the metabolic pathways that they influence. Because that example, blood street levels directly regulate insulin and glucagon release by the pancreas, and also calcium level in the blood manage PTH release. Conversely, numerous hormones produced by target glands are regulated through pituitary hormones, which consequently are controlled by hypothalamic hormones. Examples of such regulatory hormonal cascades encompass the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroidal (HPT) axis, i beg your pardon are explained briefly in the complying with sections (see number 3, p.162).

Schematic representation of the HPA, HPG, and HPT axes. For each system, the hypothalamus secretes releasing hormones (i.e., CRH, GnRH, and also TRH) the act top top the pituitary gland. In an answer to those stimuli, the pituitary gland publication ACTH, gonadotropins (i.e., LH and FSH), or TSH. ACTH activates the adrenal glands to relax cortisol, i m sorry induces metabolic effects. Cortisol additionally acts back on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland by an adverse feedback. LH and FSH in ladies stimulate the ovaries to develop estrogens and progesterone. Depending upon the step of the expression cycle, those hormone act earlier on the hypothalamus and also pituitary gland in either a stimulatory or inhibitory manner. In men, LH stimulates the testes to release testosterone, i m sorry feeds ago on the hypothalamus and pituitary. Finally, TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to create the thyroid hormone T3 and also 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 the the HPA axis, i beg your pardon regulates various metabolic functions, is initiated through the relax of CRH indigenous the hypothalamus. This relax occurs in solution to various stimuli, including nearly any kind of physics or mental stress; throughout the normal sleep-wake cycle; and also in an answer to particular neurotransmitters. CRH then stimulates the anterior pituitary to create ACTH. (In addition to CRH, AVP from the hypothalamus likewise can stimulate ACTH release). ACTH, in turn, activates adrenal hormone production, mainly of cortisol, which mediates the details physiological results of this hormone system.

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

Any disturbances in the HPA axis can result in serious clinical consequences. Because that example, insufficient hormone manufacturing by the adrenal cortex reasons Addison’s disease, i m sorry is identified by muscle weakness, dehydration, ns of appetite (i.e., anorexia), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, ab pain, tiredness, and malaise. Patients through this an illness exhibit low levels the plasma cortisol but high level of ACTH. The boost in ACTH levels represents a vain effort by the pituitary to stimulate hormone production in the unresponsive adrenal cortex.

Equally deleterious is the excessive glucocorticoid manufacturing that outcomes from excess ACTH relax (i.e., Cushing’s syndrome). Those patients suffer symptoms such together muscle weakness and also wasting, ago pain from osteoporosis, a propensity to bruise easily, redistribution of human body fat (i.e., a rounded “moon” face, prominent abdomen, and also thin legs), and various mental disturbances. Due to the fact that of the negative feedback system of the HPA axis, the patient’s cortisol levels room high and also the ACTH levels room low.

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

The HPG Axis

In both men and also 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 regularly in brief 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 release testosterone. FSH and testosterone are key regulators the another collection of testicular cells (i.e., Sertoli cells), i beg your pardon support and nourish the sperm cells throughout their maturation. The HPG axis in men is regulated through a selection of factors. For example, testosterone is component of a an unfavorable feedback system that inhibits GnRH relax by the hypothalamus and LH release by the pituitary. In addition, the Sertoli cell secrete a substance referred to as 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 called activin, i beg your pardon stimulates FSH secretion and also thus has the opposite results of inhibin.

In women, during the term cycle, LH and also FSH stimulate the ovarian follicle that contains the maturing egg to develop estradiol. ~ ovulation has occurred, LH also promotes production of progesterone and also estradiol by the body luteum. Both hormones take part in a an unfavorable feedback device through most of the term cycle, suppressing GnRH relax from the hypothalamus and also LH relax from the pituitary. Shortly prior to ovulation, however, a optimistic feedback system is activated by which estradiol actually improves LH release from the pituitary. The result surge in LH levels ultimately leads to ovulation, the formation of the body luteum, and progesterone release. Progesterone exerts a an adverse feedback ~ above LH and FSH release, resulting in LH levels to decline again. In addition to those mechanisms, FSH release from the pituitary is regulation by inhibin, a substance produced by specific cells in the ovarian follicle.

Both acute and also chronic alcohol usage can interfere v the regular functioning of the HPG axis, resulting in decreased fertility or even infertility in both men and women and also in menstrual disturbances in women. (For an ext information on alcohol’s impacts on the HPG axis in women and men, see the short articles 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 procedures of all cells in the body and are therefore crucial for the organism to function normally. The secretion of TRH indigenous the hypothalamus activates the HPT axis. After getting to the pituitary, TRH stimulates the release of TSH, which in turn promotes the production and also release of T4 and T3 through the thyroid gland. Negative feed-back effects of T4 and T3 top top both the hypothalamus and also the pituitary control the HPT system. (For a an introduction of alcohol’s impacts on the HPT axis, check out sidebar, p. 163.)

One of the necessary hormonal equipment regulating typical body functioning is the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis, i m sorry controls the metabolism of all cells. Similar to other hormone systems, alcohol intake under particular conditions have the right to modify the release of hormones connected in this axis. In healthy and balanced nonalcoholics, alcohol intake does not show up to induce any significant changes in the HPT axis (Emanuele and also Emanuele 1997). Conversely, some results of alcohol ~ above the HPT axis have been it was observed in alcoholics. The results differ relying on the drinking standing of the alcoholics studied. In alcoholics experience withdrawal, baseline levels of thyroid hormone (i.e., T3 and T4) in the blood differ just minimally from those in nonalcoholics. The capability of hypothalamic thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) come activate the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) native the pituitary, however, is impaired in these alcoholics (Emanuele and also Emanuele 1997). This “blunting” result may result from alcohol’s affect on the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine created in the hypothalamus plot not just as a neurotransmitter but additionally as a hormone in that it inhibits the release of both TSH and prolactin from the pituitary. Alcohol has actually been presented to rise dopaminergic task and thereby might suppress the TSH solution to TRH. This theory is supported by the fact that prolactin relax in an answer to TRH additionally is blunted in alcoholics undergoing withdrawal.

Alcohol’s results on the HPT axis are even more complicated in abstinent alcoholics (Garbutt et al. 1995). In those people, the baseline levels of T3 and also sometimes T4 are lower than in nonalcoholics. It is unclear, however, if this adjust represents a direct effect of long-term alcohol intake or outcomes from co-occurring alcohol-related illnesses, due to the fact that thyroid hormone levels room often decreased in patients through acute or chronic non-thyroid–related illnesses, such as sepsis, burns, or significant trauma. In enhancement to the lessened thyroid hormone levels, however, the TSH an answer to TRH remains blunted in abstinent alcoholics, conversely, the prolactin an answer to TRH has returned to regular levels. This observation shows that a element other 보다 dopamine most likely contributes to this effect, return the specific mechanisms are unknown.

Finally, some intriguing findings have argued that abnormal responses of the HPT axis may represent a marker because that a person’s vulnerability come alcoholism. Thus, some people who are at high hazard for emerging alcoholism, such as nonalcoholic sons of alcohol addict fathers, tend to exhibit a blunted TSH an answer to TRH (Emanuele and Emanuele 1997). These observations still require additional investigation, however, for researchers to fully understand your significance.

—Susanne Hiller-Sturmhöfel and also Andrzej Bartke


The neuroendocrine system is a highly complicated and tightly regulated network of hormones exit by endocrine glands throughout the body. The levels of several of the hormones are regulated in a relatively straightforward manner by the end assets that castle influence. Thus, blood sugar levels mainly regulate insulin and also glucagon release by the pancreas. Other hormones (e.g., those that the HPA, HPG, and HPT axes) are parts of hormone cascades whose activities are managed through elaborate feedback mechanisms. In addition, numerous indirect interactions exist between the various hormone equipment governing human body functioning. For example, hormones such together GH and also thyroid hormone, with their impacts on cellular metabolism, may modify blood street levels and, accordingly, insulin release. Similarly, alcohol’s results on one hormone mechanism may have indirect consequences for other systems, in order to contributing to alcohol’s influences on the to work of basically every organ in the body. The is necessary to save this interconnectedness the neuroendocrine systems in mind when evaluating alcohol’s affect on miscellaneous hormones, which are explained in the remaining write-ups in this issue.

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

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