A hormone (from the Greek participle “ὁρμῶ”, "to arouse") is any member of a class of signaling molecules produced by glands in multicellular organisms that are transported by the circulatory system to target distant organs to regulate physiology and behavior. Hormones have diverse chemical structures, mainly of three classes: eicosanoids, steroids, and amino acid/protein derivatives (amines, peptides, and proteins). The glands that secrete hormones comprise the endocrine signaling system. The term hormone is sometimes extended to include chemicals produced by cells that affect the same cell (autocrine or intracrine signalling) or nearby cells (paracrine signalling).

Hormones are used to communicate between organs and tissues for physiological regulation and behavioral activities, such as digestion, metabolism, respiration, tissue function, sensory perception, sleep, excretion, lactation, stress, growth and development, movement, reproduction, and mood.[1][2] Hormones affect distant cells by binding to specific receptor proteins in the target cell resulting in a change in cell function. When a hormone binds to the receptor, it results in the activation of a signal transduction pathway that typically activates gene transcription resulting in increased expression of target proteins; non-genomic effects are more rapid, and can be synergistic with genomic effects.[3] Amino acid–based hormones (amines and peptide or protein hormones) are water-soluble and act on the surface of target cells via second messengers; steroid hormones, being lipid-soluble, move through the plasma membranes of target cells (both cytoplasmic and nuclear) to act within their nuclei.

Hormone secretion may occur in many tissues. Endocrine glands are the cardinal example, but specialized cells in various other organs also secrete hormones. Hormone secretion occurs in response to specific biochemical signals from a wide range of regulatory systems. For instance, serum calcium concentration affects parathyroid hormone synthesis; blood sugar (serum glucose concentration) affects insulin synthesis; and because the outputs of the stomach and exocrine pancreas (the amounts of gastric juice and pancreatic juice) become the input of the small intestine, the small intestine secretes hormones to stimulate or inhibit the stomach and pancreas based on how busy it is. Regulation of hormone synthesis of gonadal hormones, adrenocortical hormones, and thyroid hormones is often dependent on complex sets of direct influence and feedback interactions involving the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA), -gonadal (HPG), and -thyroid (HPT) axes.

Upon secretion, certain hormones, including protein hormones and catecholamines, are water-soluble and are thus readily transported through the circulatory system. Other hormones, including steroid and thyroid hormones, are lipid-soluble; to allow for their widespread distribution, these hormones must bond to carrier plasma glycoproteins (e.g., thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG)) to form ligand-protein complexes. Some hormones are completely active when released into the bloodstream (as is the case for insulin and growth hormones), while others are prohormones that must be activated in specific cells through a series of activation steps that are commonly highly regulated. The endocrine system secretes hormones directly into the bloodstream, typically via fenestrated capillaries, whereas the exocrine system secretes its hormones indirectly using ducts. Hormones with paracrine function diffuse through the interstitial spaces to nearby target tissue.

1802 Examples of Amine Peptide Protein and Steroid Hormone Structure
Different types of hormones are secreted in the body, with different biological roles and functions.


Hormonal signaling involves the following steps:[4]

  1. Biosynthesis of a particular hormone in a particular tissue
  2. Storage and secretion of the hormone
  3. Transport of the hormone to the target cell(s)
  4. Recognition of the hormone by an associated cell membrane or intracellular receptor protein
  5. Relay and amplification of the received hormonal signal via a signal transduction process: This then leads to a cellular response. The reaction of the target cells may then be recognized by the original hormone-producing cells, leading to a down-regulation in hormone production. This is an example of a homeostatic negative feedback loop.
  6. Breakdown of the hormone.

Hormone producing cells are typically of a specialized cell type, residing within a particular endocrine gland, such as the thyroid gland, ovaries, and testes. Hormones exit their cell of origin via exocytosis or another means of membrane transport. The hierarchical model is an oversimplification of the hormonal signaling process. Cellular recipients of a particular hormonal signal may be one of several cell types that reside within a number of different tissues, as is the case for insulin, which triggers a diverse range of systemic physiological effects. Different tissue types may also respond differently to the same hormonal signal.


The rate of hormone biosynthesis and secretion is often regulated by a homeostatic negative feedback control mechanism. Such a mechanism depends on factors that influence the metabolism and excretion of hormones. Thus, higher hormone concentration alone cannot trigger the negative feedback mechanism. Negative feedback must be triggered by overproduction of an "effect" of the hormone.

Hormone secretion can be stimulated and inhibited by:

  • Other hormones (stimulating- or releasing -hormones)
  • Plasma concentrations of ions or nutrients, as well as binding globulins
  • Neurons and mental activity
  • Environmental changes, e.g., of light or temperature

One special group of hormones is the tropic hormones that stimulate the hormone production of other endocrine glands. For example, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) causes growth and increased activity of another endocrine gland, the thyroid, which increases output of thyroid hormones.

To release active hormones quickly into the circulation, hormone biosynthetic cells may produce and store biologically inactive hormones in the form of pre- or prohormones. These can then be quickly converted into their active hormone form in response to a particular stimulus.

Eicosanoids are considered to act as local hormones. They are considered to be "local" because they possess specific effects on target cells close to their site of formation. They also have a rapid degradation cycle, making sure they do not reach distant sites within the body.[5]


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

Most hormones initiate a cellular response by initially binding to either cell membrane associated or intracellular receptors. A cell may have several different receptor types that recognize the same hormone but activate different signal transduction pathways, or a cell may have several different receptors that recognize different hormones and activate the same biochemical pathway.

Receptors for most peptide as well as many eicosanoid hormones are embedded in the plasma membrane at the surface of the cell and the majority of these receptors belong to the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) class of seven alpha helix transmembrane proteins. The interaction of hormone and receptor typically triggers a cascade of secondary effects within the cytoplasm of the cell, described as signal transduction, often involving phosphorylation or dephosphorylation of various other cytoplasmic proteins, changes in ion channel permeability, or increased concentrations of intracellular molecules that may act as secondary messengers (e.g., cyclic AMP). Some protein hormones also interact with intracellular receptors located in the cytoplasm or nucleus by an intracrine mechanism.

For steroid or thyroid hormones, their receptors are located inside the cell within the cytoplasm of the target cell. These receptors belong to the nuclear receptor family of ligand-activated transcription factors. To bind their receptors, these hormones must first cross the cell membrane. They can do so because they are lipid-soluble. The combined hormone-receptor complex then moves across the nuclear membrane into the nucleus of the cell, where it binds to specific DNA sequences, regulating the expression of certain genes, and thereby increasing the levels of the proteins encoded by these genes.[6] However, it has been shown that not all steroid receptors are located inside the cell. Some are associated with the plasma membrane.[7]


Hormones have the following effects on the body:

A hormone may also regulate the production and release of other hormones. Hormone signals control the internal environment of the body through homeostasis.

Chemical classes

As hormones are defined functionally, not structurally, they may have diverse chemical structures. Hormones occur in multicellular organisms (plants, animals, fungi, brown algae and red algae). These compounds occur also in unicellular organisms, and may act as signaling molecules,[8][9] but there is no consensus if, in this case, they can be called hormones.


Vertebrate hormones fall into three main chemical classes:

Compared with vertebrates, insects and crustaceans possess a number of structurally unusual hormones such as the juvenile hormone, a sesquiterpenoid.[12]


Plant hormones include abscisic acid, auxin, cytokinin, ethylene, and gibberellin.

Therapeutic use

Many hormones and their structural and functional analogs are used as medication. The most commonly prescribed hormones are estrogens and progestogens (as methods of hormonal contraception and as HRT),[13] thyroxine (as levothyroxine, for hypothyroidism) and steroids (for autoimmune diseases and several respiratory disorders). Insulin is used by many diabetics. Local preparations for use in otolaryngology often contain pharmacologic equivalents of adrenaline, while steroid and vitamin D creams are used extensively in dermatological practice.

A "pharmacologic dose" or "supraphysiological dose" of a hormone is a medical usage referring to an amount of a hormone far greater than naturally occurs in a healthy body. The effects of pharmacologic doses of hormones may be different from responses to naturally occurring amounts and may be therapeutically useful, though not without potentially adverse side effects. An example is the ability of pharmacologic doses of glucocorticoids to suppress inflammation.

Hormone-behavior interactions

At the neurological level, behavior can be inferred based on: hormone concentrations; hormone-release patterns; the numbers and locations of hormone receptors; and the efficiency of hormone receptors for those involved in gene transcription. Not only do hormones influence behavior, but also behavior and the environment influence hormones. Thus, a feedback loop is formed. For example, behavior can affect hormones, which in turn can affect behavior, which in turn can affect hormones, and so on.

Three broad stages of reasoning may be used when determining hormone-behavior interactions:

  • The frequency of occurrence of a hormonally dependent behavior should correspond to that of its hormonal source
  • A hormonally dependent behavior is not expected if the hormonal source (or its types of action) is non-existent
  • The reintroduction of a missing behaviorally dependent hormonal source (or its types of action) is expected to bring back the absent behavior

Comparison with neurotransmitters

There are various clear distinctions between hormones and neurotransmitters:

  • A hormone can perform functions over a larger spatial and temporal scale than can a neurotransmitter.
  • Hormonal signals can travel virtually anywhere in the circulatory system, whereas neural signals are restricted to pre-existing nerve tracts
  • Assuming the travel distance is equivalent, neural signals can be transmitted much more quickly (in the range of milliseconds) than can hormonal signals (in the range of seconds, minutes, or hours). Neural signals can be sent at speeds up to 100 meters per second.
  • Neural signalling is an all-or-nothing (digital) action, whereas hormonal signalling is an action that can be continuously variable as dependent upon hormone concentration.

Binding proteins

Hormone transport and the involvement of binding proteins is an essential aspect when considering the function of hormones. There are several benefits with the formation of a complex with a binding protein: the effective half-life of the bound hormone is increased; a reservoir of bound hormones is created, which evens the variations in concentration of unbound hormones (bound hormones will replace the unbound hormones when these are eliminated).[14]


The discovery of hormones and endocrine signaling occurred during studies of how the digestive system regulates its activities, as explained at Secretin § Discovery.

See also


  1. ^ Neave N (2008). Hormones and behaviour: a psychological approach. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0521692014. Lay summaryProject Muse.
  2. ^ "Hormones". MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  3. ^ Ruhs, Stefanie; Nolze, Alexander; Hübschmann, Ralf; Grossmann, Claudia (July 2017). "30 YEARS OF THE MINERALOCORTICOID RECEPTOR: Nongenomic effects via the mineralocorticoid receptor". The Journal of Endocrinology. 234 (1): T107–T124. doi:10.1530/JOE-16-0659. ISSN 1479-6805. PMID 28348113.
  4. ^ Nussey S, Whitehead S (2001). Endocrinology: an integrated approach. Oxford: Bios Scientific Publ. ISBN 978-1-85996-252-7.
  5. ^ "Eicosanoids". www.rpi.edu. Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  6. ^ Beato M, Chavez S, Truss M (1996). "Transcriptional regulation by steroid hormones". Steroids. 61 (4): 240–251. doi:10.1016/0039-128X(96)00030-X. PMID 8733009.
  7. ^ Hammes SR (2003). "The further redefining of steroid-mediated signaling". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 100 (5): 21680–2170. doi:10.1073/pnas.0530224100. PMC 151311. PMID 12606724.
  8. ^ Lenard J (1992). "Mammalian hormones in microbial cells". Trends Biochem. Sci. 17 (4): 147–50. doi:10.1016/0968-0004(92)90323-2. PMID 1585458.
  9. ^ Janssens PM. "Did vertebrate signal transduction mechanisms originate in eukaryotic microbes?". Trends in Biochemical Sciences. 12: 456–459. doi:10.1016/0968-0004(87)90223-4.
  10. ^ "Eicosanoid Synthesis and Metabolism: Prostaglandins, Thromboxanes, Leukotrienes, Lipoxins". themedicalbiochemistrypage.org. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  11. ^ Marieb, Elaine (2014). Anatomy & physiology. Glenview, IL: Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 978-0321861580.
  12. ^ Heyland A, Hodin J, Reitzel AM (2005). "Hormone signaling in evolution and development: a non-model system approach". BioEssays. 27 (1): 64–75. doi:10.1002/bies.20136. PMID 15612033.
  13. ^ "Hormone Therapy". Cleveland Clinic.
  14. ^ Boron WF, Boulpaep EL. Medical physiology : a cellular and molecular approach. Updated 2. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012.

External links


Acromegaly is a disorder that results from excess growth hormone (GH) after the growth plates have closed. The initial symptom is typically enlargement of the hands and feet. There may also be enlargement of the forehead, jaw, and nose. Other symptoms may include joint pain, thicker skin, deepening of the voice, headaches, and problems with vision. Complications of the disease may include type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and high blood pressure.Acromegaly is typically due to the pituitary gland producing too much growth hormone. In more than 95% of cases the excess production is due to a benign tumor, known as a pituitary adenoma. The condition is not inherited from a person's parents. Rarely acromegaly is due to tumors in other parts of the body. Diagnosis is by measuring growth hormone after a person has drunk glucose or by measuring insulin-like growth factor I in the blood. After diagnosis, medical imaging of the pituitary is carried out to look for an adenoma. If excess growth hormone is produced during childhood the result is gigantism.Treatment options include surgery to remove the tumor, medications, and radiation therapy. Surgery is usually the preferred treatment and is most effective when the tumor is smaller. In those in whom surgery is not effective, medications of the somatostatin analogue or GH receptor antagonist type may be used. The effects of radiation therapy are more gradual than that of surgery or medication. Without treatment those affected live on average 10 years less; with treatment, however, life expectancy is typically normal.Acromegaly affects about 6 per 100,000 people. It is most commonly diagnosed in middle age. Males and females are affected with equal frequency. The first medical description of the disorder occurred in 1772 by Nicolas Saucerotte. The term is from Greek ἄκρον akron meaning "extremity" and μέγα mega meaning "large".

Adrenocorticotropic hormone

Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH, also adrenocorticotropin, corticotropin) is a polypeptide tropic hormone produced by and secreted by the anterior pituitary gland. It is also used as a medication and diagnostic agent.

ACTH is an important component of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and is often produced in response to biological stress (along with its precursor corticotropin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus). Its principal effects are increased production and release of cortisol by the cortex of the adrenal gland. ACTH is also related to the circadian rhythm in many organisms.Deficiency of ACTH is a sign of secondary adrenal insufficiency (suppressed production of ACTH due to an impairment of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus, cf. hypopituitarism) or tertiary adrenal insufficiency (disease of the hypothalamus, with a decrease in the release of corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH)). Conversely, chronically elevated ACTH levels occur in primary adrenal insufficiency (e.g. Addison's disease) when adrenal gland production of cortisol is chronically deficient. In Cushing's disease a pituitary tumor is the cause of elevated ACTH (from the anterior pituitary) and an excess of cortisol (hypercortisolism) – this constellation of signs and symptoms is known as Cushing's syndrome.


Dwarfism, also known as short stature, occurs when an organism is extremely small. In humans, it is sometimes defined as an adult height of less than 147 centimetres (4 ft 10 in), regardless of sex, although some individuals with dwarfism are slightly taller. Disproportionate dwarfism is characterized by either short limbs or a short torso. In cases of proportionate dwarfism, both the limbs and torso are unusually small. Normal intelligence and lifespan are usual.Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Those with bone growth disorders can sometimes be treated with surgery, or physical therapy. Hormone disorders can also be treated with hormone replacement therapy before the child's growth plates fuse. Individual accommodations, such as specialized furniture, are often used by people with dwarfism. Many support groups provide services to aid individuals and the discrimination they may face.In addition to the medical aspect of the condition, there are also social aspects. For a person with dwarfism, height discrimination can lead to ridicule in childhood and discrimination in adulthood. In the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, and other English-speaking countries, some people with dwarfism prefer to be called dwarfs, little people, or persons of short stature. Historically, the term "midget" was used to describe proportionate dwarfs; however, this term is now regarded as offensive by some.

Endocrine system

The endocrine system is a chemical messenger system consisting of hormones, the group of glands of an organism that secrete those hormones directly into the circulatory system to regulate the function of distant target organs, and the feedback loops which modulate hormone release so that homeostasis is maintained. In humans, the major endocrine glands are the thyroid gland and the adrenal glands. In vertebrates, the hypothalamus is the neural control center for all endocrine systems. The study of the endocrine system and its disorders is known as endocrinology. Endocrinology is a branch of internal medicine.Special features of endocrine glands are, in general, their ductless nature, their vascularity, and commonly the presence of intracellular vacuoles or granules that store their hormones. In contrast, exocrine glands, such as salivary glands, sweat glands, and glands within the gastrointestinal tract, tend to be much less vascular and have ducts or a hollow lumen. A number of glands that signal each other in sequence are usually referred to as an axis, for example, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

In addition to the specialized endocrine organs mentioned above, many other organs that are part of other body systems, such as bone, kidney, liver, heart and gonads, have secondary endocrine functions. For example, the kidney secretes endocrine hormones such as erythropoietin and renin. Hormones can consist of either amino acid complexes, steroids, eicosanoids, leukotrienes, or prostaglandins.The endocrine system is in contrast to the exocrine system, which secretes its hormones to the outside of the body using ducts. As opposed to endocrine factors that travel considerably longer distances via the circulatory system, other signaling molecules, such as paracrine factors involved in paracrine signalling diffuse over a relatively short distance.

The word endocrine derives via New Latin from the Greek words ἔνδον, endon, "inside, within," and "crine" from the κρίνω, krīnō, "to separate, distinguish".


Endocrinology (from endocrine + -ology) is a branch of biology and medicine dealing with the endocrine system, its diseases, and its specific secretions known as hormones. It is also concerned with the integration of developmental events proliferation, growth, and differentiation, and the psychological or behavioral activities of metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sleep, digestion, respiration, excretion, mood, stress, lactation, movement, reproduction, and sensory perception caused by hormones. Specializations include behavioral endocrinology and comparative endocrinology.

The endocrine system consists of several glands, all in different parts of the body, that secrete hormones directly into the blood rather than into a duct system. Hormones have many different functions and modes of action; one hormone may have several effects on different target organs, and, conversely, one target organ may be affected by more than one hormone.

Follicle-stimulating hormone

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is a gonadotropin, a glycoprotein polypeptide hormone. FSH is synthesized and secreted by the gonadotropic cells of the anterior pituitary gland, and regulates the development, growth, pubertal maturation, and reproductive processes of the body. FSH and luteinizing hormone (LH) work together in the reproductive system.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is a releasing hormone responsible for the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) from the anterior pituitary. GnRH is a tropic peptide hormone synthesized and released from GnRH neurons within the hypothalamus. The peptide belongs to gonadotropin-releasing hormone family. It constitutes the initial step in the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis.

Growth hormone

Growth hormone (GH) or somatotropin, also known as human growth hormone (hGH or HGH) in its human form, is a peptide hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction, and cell regeneration in humans and other animals. It is thus important in human development. It is a type of mitogen which is specific only to certain kinds of cells. Growth hormone is a 191-amino acid, single-chain polypeptide that is synthesized, stored and secreted by somatotropic cells within the lateral wings of the anterior pituitary gland.

GH is a stress hormone that stimulates production of IGF-1 and raises the concentration of glucose and free fatty acids.A recombinant form of hGH called somatropin (INN) is used as a prescription drug to treat children's growth disorders and adult growth hormone deficiency. In the United States, it is only available legally from pharmacies, by prescription from a doctor. In recent years in the United States, some doctors have started to prescribe growth hormone in GH-deficient older patients (but not on healthy people) to increase vitality. While legal, the efficacy and safety of this use for HGH has not been tested in a clinical trial. At this time, HGH is still considered a very complex hormone, and many of its functions are still unknown.In its role as an anabolic agent, HGH has been used by competitors in sports since at least 1982, and has been banned by the IOC and NCAA. Traditional urine analysis does not detect doping with HGH, so the ban was unenforceable until the early 2000s, when blood tests that could distinguish between natural and artificial HGH were starting to be developed. Blood tests conducted by WADA at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece targeted primarily HGH. Use of the drug for performance enhancement is not currently approved by the FDA.

GH has been studied for use in raising livestock more efficiently in industrial agriculture and several efforts have been made to obtain governmental approval to use GH in livestock production. These uses have been controversial. In the United States, the only FDA-approved use of GH for livestock is the use of a cow-specific form of GH called bovine somatotropin for increasing milk production in dairy cows. Retailers are permitted to label containers of milk as produced with or without bovine somatotropin.

Hormone replacement therapy

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), also known as menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) or postmenopausal hormone therapy (PHT, PMHT), is a form of hormone therapy which is used to treat symptoms associated with menopause in women. These symptoms can include hot flashes, vaginal atrophy and dryness, and bone loss, among others, and are caused by diminished levels of sex hormones in the menopausal period. The main hormonal medications used in HRT for menopausal symptoms are estrogens and progestogens. A progestogen is usually used in combination with an estrogen in women with intact uteruses because unopposed estrogen therapy is associated with endometrial hyperplasia and cancer and progestogens prevent these risks. Androgens, like testosterone, are sometimes used in HRT as well. HRT medications are available in various forms and for use by a variety of different routes of administration.The 2002 Women's Health Initiative (WHI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found disparate results for all cause mortality with HRT, finding it to be lower when HRT was begun earlier, between age 50 to 59, but higher when begun after age 60. In older patients, there was an increased incidence of breast cancer, heart attacks, venous thrombosis, and stroke, although a reduced incidence of colorectal cancer and bone fracture. Some of the WHI findings were again found in a larger national study done in the United Kingdom, known as the Million Women Study (MWS). As a result of these findings, the number of women taking HRT dropped precipitously. The WHI recommended that women with non-surgical menopause take the lowest feasible dose of HRT for the shortest possible time to minimize associated risks.The current indications for use from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) include short-term treatment of menopausal symptoms, such as vasomotor hot flashes or vaginal atrophy, and prevention of osteoporosis. In 2012 and 2017, the United States Preventive Task Force (USPSTF) concluded that the harmful effects of combined estrogen and progestin therapy are likely to exceed the chronic disease prevention benefits in most women. A consensus expert opinion published by The Endocrine Society stated that when taken during perimenopause, or the initial years of menopause, HRT carries significantly fewer risks than previously published, and reduces all cause mortality in most patient scenarios. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) also released a position statement in 2009 that approved of HRT in appropriate clinical scenarios.


The hypothalamus is a portion of the brain that contains a number of small nuclei with a variety of functions. One of the most important functions of the hypothalamus is to link the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland.

The hypothalamus is located below the thalamus and is part of the limbic system. In the terminology of neuroanatomy, it forms the ventral part of the diencephalon. All vertebrate brains contain a hypothalamus. In humans, it is the size of an almond.

The hypothalamus is responsible for the regulation of certain metabolic processes and other activities of the autonomic nervous system. It synthesizes and secretes certain neurohormones, called releasing hormones or hypothalamic hormones, and these in turn stimulate or inhibit the secretion of hormones from the pituitary gland.

The hypothalamus controls body temperature, hunger, important aspects of parenting and attachment behaviours, thirst, fatigue, sleep, and circadian rhythms. The hypothalamus derives its name from Greek ὑπό, under and θάλαμος, chamber.


Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid or low thyroid, is a disorder of the endocrine system in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. It can cause a number of symptoms, such as poor ability to tolerate cold, a feeling of tiredness, constipation, depression, and weight gain. Occasionally there may be swelling of the front part of the neck due to goiter. Untreated hypothyroidism during pregnancy can lead to delays in growth and intellectual development in the baby or congenital iodine deficiency syndrome.Worldwide, too little iodine in the diet is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. In countries with enough iodine in the diet, the most common cause of hypothyroidism is the autoimmune condition Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Less common causes include: previous treatment with radioactive iodine, injury to the hypothalamus or the anterior pituitary gland, certain medications, a lack of a functioning thyroid at birth, or previous thyroid surgery. The diagnosis of hypothyroidism, when suspected, can be confirmed with blood tests measuring thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine levels.Salt iodization has prevented hypothyroidism in many populations. Hypothyroidism can be treated with levothyroxine. The dose is adjusted according to symptoms and normalization of the thyroxine and TSH levels. Thyroid medication is safe in pregnancy. While a certain amount of dietary iodine is important, excessive amounts can worsen certain types of hypothyroidism.Worldwide about one billion people are estimated to be iodine deficient; however, it is unknown how often this results in hypothyroidism. In the United States, hypothyroidism occurs in 0.3–0.4% of people. Subclinical hypothyroidism, a milder form of hypothyroidism characterized by normal thyroxine levels and an elevated TSH level, is thought to occur in 4.3–8.5% of people in the United States. Hypothyroidism is more common in women than men. People over the age of 60 are more commonly affected. Dogs are also known to develop hypothyroidism and in rare cases cats and horses. The word "hypothyroidism" is from Greek hypo- meaning "reduced", thyreos for "shield", and eidos for "form."

Luteinizing hormone

Luteinizing hormone (LH, also known as lutropin and sometimes lutrophin) is a hormone produced by gonadotropic cells in the anterior pituitary gland. In females, an acute rise of LH ("LH surge") triggers ovulation and development of the corpus luteum. In males, where LH had also been called interstitial cell–stimulating hormone (ICSH), it stimulates Leydig cell production of testosterone. It acts synergistically with FSH.

Parathyroid hormone

Parathyroid hormone (PTH), also called parathormone or parathyrin, is a hormone secreted by the parathyroid glands that is important in bone remodeling, which is an ongoing process in which bone tissue is alternately resorbed and rebuilt over time. PTH is secreted in response to low blood serum calcium (Ca2+) levels. PTH indirectly stimulates osteoclast activity within bone marrow, in an effort to release more ionic calcium (Ca2+) into the blood to elevate serum calcium levels. The bones act as a (metaphorical) "bank of calcium" from which the body can make "withdrawals" as needed to keep the amount of calcium in the blood at appropriate levels despite the ever-present challenges of metabolism, stress, and nutritional variations. PTH is "a key that unlocks the bank vault" to remove the calcium. In consequence, PTH is vital to health, and health problems that yield too little or too much PTH (such as hypoparathyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, or paraneoplastic syndromes) can wreak havoc in the form of bone disease, hypocalcaemia, and hypercalcaemia.

PTH is secreted by the chief cells of the parathyroid glands as a polypeptide containing 84 amino acids, which is a prohormone; effective hormone-receptor interaction requires solely the 34-N-terminal amino acids. (Data indicate that PTH is also possibly secreted in small amounts from the brain and the thymus.) While PTH acts to increase the concentration of ionic calcium (Ca2+) in the blood, calcitonin, a hormone produced by the parafollicular cells (C cells) of the thyroid gland, acts to decrease ionic calcium concentration. PTH essentially acts to increase the concentration of calcium in the blood by acting upon the parathyroid hormone 1 receptor, which is present at high levels in bone and kidney, and the parathyroid hormone 2 receptor, which is present at high levels in the central nervous system, pancreas, testes, and placenta. PTH half-life is about 4 minutes. It has a molecular mass around 9500 Da.

Pituitary gland

In vertebrate anatomy, the pituitary gland, or hypophysis, is an endocrine gland about the size of a pea and weighing 0.5 grams (0.018 oz) in humans. It is a protrusion off the bottom of the hypothalamus at the base of the brain. The hypophysis rests upon the hypophysial fossa of the sphenoid bone in the center of the middle cranial fossa and is surrounded by a small bony cavity (sella turcica) covered by a dural fold (diaphragma sellae). The anterior pituitary (or adenohypophysis) is a lobe of the gland that regulates several physiological processes (including stress, growth, reproduction, and lactation). The intermediate lobe synthesizes and secretes melanocyte-stimulating hormone. The posterior pituitary (or neurohypophysis) is a lobe of the gland that is functionally connected to the hypothalamus by the median eminence via a small tube called the pituitary stalk (also called the infundibular stalk or the infundibulum).

Hormones secreted from the pituitary gland help in controlling growth, blood pressure, energy management, all functions of the sex organs, thyroid glands and metabolism as well as some aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, water/salt concentration at the kidneys, temperature regulation and pain relief.


Prolactin (PRL), also known as luteotropic hormone or luteotropin, is a protein that is best known for its role in enabling mammals, usually females, to produce milk. It is influential in over 300 separate processes in various vertebrates, including humans. Prolactin is secreted from the pituitary gland in response to eating, mating, estrogen treatment, ovulation and nursing. Prolactin is secreted in pulses in between these events. Prolactin plays an essential role in metabolism, regulation of the immune system and pancreatic development.

Discovered in non-human animals around 1930 by Oscar Riddle and confirmed in humans in 1970 by Henry Friesen prolactin is a peptide hormone, encoded by the PRL gene.In mammals, prolactin is associated with milk production; in fish it is thought to be related to the control of water and salt balance. Prolactin also acts in a cytokine-like manner and as an important regulator of the immune system. It has important cell cycle-related functions as a growth-, differentiating- and anti-apoptotic factor. As a growth factor, binding to cytokine-like receptors, it influences hematopoiesis, angiogenesis and is involved in the regulation of blood clotting through several pathways. The hormone acts in endocrine, autocrine and paracrine manner through the prolactin receptor and a large number of cytokine receptors.Pituitary prolactin secretion is regulated by endocrine neurons in the hypothalamus. The most important of these are the neurosecretory tuberoinfundibulum (TIDA) neurons of the arcuate nucleus that secrete dopamine (aka Prolactin Inhibitory Hormone) to act on the D2 receptors of lactotrophs, causing inhibition of prolactin secretion. Thyrotropin-releasing factor (thyrotropin-releasing hormone) has a stimulatory effect on prolactin release, however prolactin is the only adenohypophyseal hormone whose principal control is inhibitory.

Several variants and forms are known per species. Many fish have variants prolactin A and prolactin B. Most vertebrates including humans also have the closely related somatolactin. In humans, three smaller (4, 16 and 22 kDa) and several larger (so called big and big-big) variants exist.

Sex steroid

Sex steroids, also known as gonadocorticoids and gonadal steroids, are steroid hormones that interact with vertebrate androgen or estrogen receptors. Their effects are mediated by slow genomic mechanisms through nuclear receptors as well as by fast nongenomic mechanisms through membrane-associated receptors and signaling cascades. The term sex hormone is nearly always synonymous with sex steroid. The polypeptide hormones luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and gonadotropin-releasing hormone are usually not regarded as sex hormones, although they play major sex-related roles.

Thyroid-stimulating hormone

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (also known as thyrotropin, thyrotropic hormone, TSH, or hTSH for human TSH) is a pituitary hormone that stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroxine (T4), and then triiodothyronine (T3) which stimulates the metabolism of almost every tissue in the body. It is a glycoprotein hormone produced by thyrotrope cells in the anterior pituitary gland, which regulates the endocrine function of the thyroid. In 1916, Bennett M. Allen and Philip E. Smith found that the pituitary contained a thyrotropic substance.

Thyroid hormones

Thyroid hormones are two hormones produced and released by the thyroid gland, namely triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). They are tyrosine-based hormones that are primarily responsible for regulation of metabolism. T3 and T4 are partially composed of iodine. A deficiency of iodine leads to decreased production of T3 and T4, enlarges the thyroid tissue and will cause the disease known as simple goitre. The major form of thyroid hormone in the blood is thyroxine (T4), which has a longer half-life than T3. In humans, the ratio of T4 to T3 released into the blood is approximately 14:1. T4 is converted to the active T3 (three to four times more potent than T4) within cells by deiodinases (5'-iodinase). These are further processed by decarboxylation and deiodination to produce iodothyronamine (T1a) and thyronamine (T0a). All three isoforms of the deiodinases are selenium-containing enzymes, thus dietary selenium is essential for T3 production. Edward Calvin Kendall was responsible for the isolation of thyroxine in 1915.


Vasopressin, also called antidiuretic hormone (ADH), arginine vasopressin (AVP) or argipressin, is a hormone synthesized as a peptide prohormone in neurons in the hypothalamus, and is converted to AVP. It then travels down the axon of that cell, which terminates in the posterior pituitary, and is released from vesicles into the circulation in response to extracellular fluid hypertonicity (hyperosmolality). AVP has two primary functions. First, it increases the amount of solute-free water reabsorbed back into the circulation from the filtrate in the kidney tubules of the nephrons. Second, AVP constricts arterioles, which increases peripheral vascular resistance and raises arterial blood pressure.A third function is possible. Some AVP may be released directly into the brain from the hypothalamus, and may play an important role in social behavior, sexual motivation and pair bonding, and maternal responses to stress.Vasopressin induces differential of stem cells into cardiomyocytes and promotes heart muscle homeostasis.It has a very short half-life, between 16–24 minutes.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.