Pathology Laboratory

Hormones and the Endocrine System

Hormones are chemical messengers essential in maintaining the equilibrium of the body. The endocrine system, made of up of glands found throughout the body, is the control centre and secretes hormones.

What are hormones?

Hormones are special chemical messengers in the body that are created in the endocrine glands. These messengers control most major bodily functions, from simple basic needs like hunger to complex systems like reproduction, and even the emotions and mood. Understanding the major hormones and what they do will help patients take control of their health.

Hormone glands and endocrine system

The best way to answer the question “what are hormones?” is to look at some of the major hormonal systems in the body.

Hormones are created by glands, which are part of the endocrine system.

The main hormone-producing glands are:

  • Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus handles body temperature, hunger, moods, and the release of hormones from other glands; and also controls thirst, sleep and sex drive.
  • Parathyroid: This gland controls the amount of calcium in the body.
  • Thymus: This gland plays a role in the function of the adaptive immune system and the maturity of the thymus, and produces T-cells.
  • Pancreas: This gland produces the insulin that helps control blood sugar levels.
  • Thyroid: The thyroid produces hormones associated with calorie burning and heart rate.
  • Adrenal: Adrenal glands produce the hormones that control sex drive and cortisol, the stress hormone.
  • Pituitary: Considered the “master control gland,” the pituitary gland controls other glands and makes the hormones that trigger growth.
  • Pineal: Also called the thalamus, this gland produces serotonin derivatives of melatonin, which affects sleep.
  • Ovaries: Only in women, the ovaries secrete estrogen, testosterone and progesterone, the female sex hormones.
  • Testes: Only in men, the testes produce the male sex hormone, testosterone, and produce sperm.

What are the types of hormones?

What do hormones do, exactly? The body has many hormones, but certain types have a bigger role to play in the body’s health and well-being. Understanding these roles is important for those looking to protect and manage their health.

For women, estrogen (or estradiol) is the main sex hormone. It causes puberty, prepares the body and uterus for pregnancy, and regulates the menstrual cycle. During menopause, estrogen level changes cause many of the uncomfortable symptoms women experience.

Progesterone is like estrogen but is not considered the main sex hormone. Like estrogen, it assists with the menstrual cycle and plays a role in pregnancy.

Cortisol has been called the “stress hormone” because of the way it assists the body in responding to stress. This is just one of several functions of this important hormone.

Melatonin levels change throughout the day, increasing after dark to trigger the responses that cause sleep.

Testosterone is the main sex hormone in men. It causes puberty, increases bone density, triggers facial hair growth, and causes muscle mass growth and strength.

What are the functions of the different hormone?

Endocrine glandHormoneMain tissues acted on by hormoneThe primary function of hormones
HypothalamusThyrotrophin releasing hormone (TRH)Anterior pituitaryStimulates the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from the anterior pituitary
SomatostatinAnterior pituitaryAn inhibitory hormone that prevents the release of hormones such as growth hormone from the anterior pituitary
Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH)Anterior pituitaryStimulates the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH) from the anterior pituitary
Corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH)Anterior pituitaryStimulates adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) release from the anterior pituitary
Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone (GHRH)Anterior pituitaryStimulates the release of growth hormone (GH) from the anterior pituitary
Anterior pituitaryThyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)Thyroid glandStimulates the release of thyroxine and tri-iodothyronine from the thyroid gland
Luteinising hormone (LH)Ovary/TestisFemales: promotes ovulation of the egg and stimulates oestrogen and progesterone production. Males: promotes testosterone release from the testis
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)Ovary/TestisFemales: promotes the development of eggs and follicles in the ovary prior to ovulation male: promotes the production of testosterone from testis
Growth Hormone (GH)Bones, cartilage, muscle, fat, liver, heartActs to promote the growth of bones and organs
Prolactin (PRL)Breasts, brainStimulates milk production in the breasts and plays a role in sexual behaviour
Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH)Adrenal glandsStimulates the adrenal glands to produce mainly cortisol
Posterior pituitaryVasopressin (antidiuretic hormone, ADH)Kidney, blood vessels, blood componentsActs to maintain blood pressure by causing the kidney to keep fluid, and by constricting blood vessels
OxytocinUterus, milk ducts of breastsCauses ejection of milk from the milk ducts and causes constriction of the uterus during labour
Thyroid glandThyroxine (T4)Most tissuesActs to regulate the body’s metabolic rate
Tri-iodothyronine (T3)Most tissuesActs to regulate the body’s metabolic rate
Parathyroid glandsParathyroid hormone (PTH)Kidney, Bone cellsIncreases blood calcium levels in the blood when they are low
CalcitoninKidney, Bone cellsDecreases blood calcium levels when they are high
Adrenal cortexCortisolMost tissuesInvolved in a vast array of physiological functions, including blood pressure regulation, immune system functioning and blood glucose regulation
AldosteroneKidneyActs to maintain blood pressure by causing salt and water retention
AndrogensMost tissuesSteroid hormones that promote the development of male characteristics. Physiological function is unclear.
Adrenal medullaAdrenaline and noradrenaline (the catecholamines)Most tissuesInvolved in many physiological systems, including blood pressure regulation, gastrointestinal movement and potency of the airways
PancreasInsulinMuscle, fat tissueActs to lower blood glucose levels
GlucagonLiverActs to raise blood glucose levels
SomatostatinPancreasActs to inhibit glucagon and insulin release
OvaryOestrogensBreast, Uterus, Internal and external genitaliaActs to promote the development of female primary and secondary sexual characteristics. An important role in preparing the uterus for implantation of the embryo.
ProgesteroneBreastUterusAffects female sexual characteristics and important in the maintenance of pregnancy
TestisTestosteroneSexual organsPromotes the development of male sexual characteristics, including sperm development
StomachGastrinStomachPromotes acid secretion in the stomach
Serotonin (5-HT)StomachCauses constriction of the stomach muscles
Duodenum and jejunumSecretinStomach, LiverInhibits secretions from the stomach and increases bile production
Cholecystokinin (CCK)Liver, PancreasStimulates the release of bile from the gallbladder and causes the pancreas to release digestive enzymes
KidneyErythropoietinBone marrowStimulates red blood cell development in the bone marrow
HeartAtrial natriuretic factor (ANF)KidneyLowers blood pressure by promoting salt and water loss
SkinVitamin DThe small intestine, kidney,
Bone cells
Stimulates the uptake of calcium in the small intestine, retention of calcium and release of calcium from bone stores
What is an anti-mullerian hormone?
  • Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) is a protein made by the cells that surround each egg
  • AMH is produced the most during the small pre-antral stages
  • AMH stops producing as follicles grow and nearly no AMH is produced once a follicle hits 8mm in size
  • The more eggs a woman has, the higher her AMH level should be
  • A simple blood test can determine a woman’s AMH levels

About eight weeks after conception, the human fetus has two sets of ducts, one of which can develop into the male reproductive tract and the other into the female reproductive tract. If the fetus is genetically male (XY chromosomes) then the embryonic testes will produce anti-Müllerian hormone. This causes the Müllerian (female) ducts to disappear, hence the term anti-Müllerian hormone, whilst testosterone produced by the testes causes the male (Wollfian) ducts to survive.

The Wolffian ducts develop into the different parts of the male reproductive system: the epididymis, the vas deferens, the seminal vesicles and the prostate gland. In a female fetus (XX chromosomes) the Wolffian ducts disappear (because of the lack of testosterone) and the Müllerian ducts develop into the fallopian tubes, uterus (womb), cervix and the upper part of the vagina.

Anti-Müllerian hormone may also have a role in regulating sex steroid production in puberty and in the adult ovaries and testes. In the ovaries, anti-Müllerian hormone appears to be important in the early stages of development of the follicles, which contain and support the eggs prior to fertilisation. The more ovarian follicles a woman has, the more anti-Müllerian hormone her ovaries can produce, and so AMH can be measured in the bloodstream to assess how many follicles a woman has left in her ovaries: her ovarian reserve.

AMH Test Cost in Pune ₹1499.00

List of 36 hormones and hormonal blood tests

Blood or urine tests can determine the levels of various hormones in the body. This includes reproductive hormones, thyroid hormones, adrenal hormones, pituitary hormones, and many others. For more information, see:

Complete list of 36 hormones
  1. 5-HIAA
  2. 17-OH progesterone
  3. 17-hydroxycorticosteroids
  4. 17-ketosteroids
  5. 24-hour urinary aldosterone excretion rate
  6. 25-OH vitamin D
  7. Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)
  8. ACTH stimulation test
  9. ACTH suppression test
  10. ADH
  11. Aldosterone
  12. Calcitonin
  13. Catecholamines – blood
  14. Catecholamines – urine
  15. Cortisol level
  16. Cortisol – urine
  17. DHEA-sulfate
  18. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
  19. Growth hormone
  20. HCG (qualitative – blood)
  21. HCG (qualitative – urine)
  22. HCG (quantitative)
  23. Luteinizing hormone (LH)
  24. LH response to GnRH
  25. Parathormone
  26. Prolactin
  27. PTH-related peptide
  28. Renin
  29. T3RU test
  30. Secretin stimulation test
  31. Serotonin
  32. T3
  33. T4
  34. Testosterone
  35. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
  36. Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH)

FSH LH Prolactin test cost in Pune

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