ANATOMY OF THE ADRENAL GLANDS
WHERE IS THE ADRENAL GLAND?
The human body has two adrenal glands and one sits on top of each kidney.
Each adrenal gland weighs 4–5 g in an adult, about the size of pea.
Adrenals are first detected at 6 weeks' gestation.
WHAT DO ADRENAL GLANDS DO?
An adrenal gland is made of two main parts:
The adrenal cortex is the outer region and also the largest part of an adrenal gland. The adrenal cortex It is divided into three separate zones: zona glomerulosa, zona fasciculata and zona reticularis. Each zone part of the adrenal cortex is responsible for producing specific hormones.
- Mineralocorticoids: the most important of which is aldosterone. The aldosterone hormone helps to maintain the body’s sodium and water levels. The balance of the body's salt and water is how the blood regulates its blood pressure. Without aldosterone hormone, the kidney loses excessive amounts of salt and water, this leads to severe dehydration and low blood pressure.
- Glucocorticoids: predominantly cortisol. The glucocorticoid hormone is involved in the response to illness and the hormone also helps to regulate body metabolism. Cortisol stimulates glucose production enabling the body to free up the necessary ingredients from storage to make glucose. Cortisol also has significant anti-inflammatory effects.
- Adrenal androgens: male sex hormones mainly dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and testosterone. Women also have DHEA and testosterone that the adrenal gland releases. The adrenal androgens help in early development of the male sex organs in childhood, and female body hair during puberty.
Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), secreted by the anterior pituitary gland, primarily affects release of glucocorticoids and adrenal androgens by the adrenal gland.
The adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla are enveloped in an adipose capsule that forms a protective layer around an adrenal gland.
- The adrenal medulla produces catecholamines: Catecholamines include adrenaline, noradrenaline and a small amount of dopamine. Dopamine is also now as the body's feel good hormone. These essential hormones are responsible for the stress response of the body's 'fight or flight' response.
All adrenocortical hormones are steroid compounds made from cholesterol.
The adrenal glands secrete different hormones that triggers the release of other hormones.
These hormones travel in the bloodstream and enable the body to function correctly.
You can find additional shortcuts to living with a chronic health condition on the HypoGal Blog.
Please, Like, HypoGal on Facebook.