The adrenal cortex is a part of adrenal gland that is connected to the medulla. This portion of the adrenal gland is responsible for the production of androgens, mineralocorticoids, and glucocorticoids. The glucocorticoids are responsible for increasing the glucose levels in the blood.
Androgens are similar to the hormone testosterone produced by the testicles. This group of adrenal cortex hormones is known for their masculinizing effect. Maintaining the levels of electrolyte in extracellular fluids is the job of mineralocorticoids.
The hormones of adrenal cortex can be grouped into three categories or groups, viz., glucocorticoids, androgens, and mineralocorticoids. The different hormones which come under these categories are presented here.
The name glucocorticoid is formed of 3 words- glucose, cortex and steroid.
- Cortisol: This adrenal cortex hormone is released by the adrenal gland in response to a feeling of stress. To increase the glucose level in blood, carrying out the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, and suppressing the immune system are important functions of cortisol.
- Corticosterone: It is produced in zona fasciculata region of adrenal cortex. The corticosterone hormone is produced as an intermediate element in the conversion process of pregnenolone to aldosterone.
- Cortisone: It is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal cortex. It plays the role of suppressing the immune system. The attendant pain and inflammation experienced at sites of injury is thus, reduced due to cortisone.
The information about different types of mineralocorticoids is provided here.
- Aldosterone: This adrenal cortex hormone is released as the sodium concentration in blood drops down or if the potassium concentration increases. Increase in blood pressure also causes the adrenal gland to secrete aldosterone.
- Progesterone: The progesterone is a C-21 steroid hormone. The processes in which progesterone plays an important role are embryogenesis, pregnancy, and menstrual cycle.
- Deoxycorticosterone: It is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal gland and is a precursor to aldosterone.
The word androgen is an umbrella term used for different hormones responsible for the development of male characteristics. The different androgen hormones are described here.
- Dehydroepiandrosterone: The dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a prohormone for sex steroids. Excess adrenal activity observed in cases of hyperplasia and adrenal cancer is detected with the help of DHEA blood measurements.
- Androstenediol: There are two forms of androstenediols i.e. the 4-androstenediol and 5-androstenediol. A metabolite of DHEA, 5-androstenediol is produced abundantly. This hormone does the work of stimulating the immune system. The 4-androstenediol is a form of androstenediol which gets converted into 5-androstenediol.
- Androstenedione: This hormone is produced as an intermediate chemical in the process that yields testosterone. It is a 19-carbon steroid hormone.
- Dihydrotestosterone: Reduction of 4,5 double bond of testosterone hormone leads to the production of dihydrotestosterone. The hormone though is produced in males and females, it is mainly responsible for the development of secondary characteristics in males.
Hyper Secretion of Adrenal Cortex Hormones
The effects of hyper secretion of thses hormones are quite a few. If cortisol is produced in excess, the result is that of decrease in glucose utilization by tissues. Breakdown of proteins is increased and the plasma protein levels are also increased.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.