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    Adrenal Glands

    Adrenal glands, also known as suprarenal glands, are small, triangular-shaped glands located on top of both kidneys.


    Adrenal Glands

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    Adrenal glands, also known as suprarenal glands, are small, triangular-shaped glands located on top of both kidneys.

    Adrenal glands produce hormones that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, response to stress and other essential functions.

    Adrenal glands are composed of two parts — the cortex and the medulla — which are each responsible for producing different hormones.

    When adrenal glands don’t produce enough hormones, this can lead to adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease).

    Adrenal glands may develop nodules that can be benign or malignant, which can potentially produce excessive amounts of certain hormones leading to various health issues.

    Anatomy of the Adrenal Glands

    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. It is divided into three separate zones: zona glomerulosa, zona fasciculata and zona reticularis. Each zone is responsible for producing specific hormones.

    The adrenal medulla is located inside the adrenal cortex in the center of an adrenal gland. It produces “stress hormones,” including adrenaline.

    The adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla are enveloped in an adipose capsule that forms a protective layer around an adrenal gland.

    Hormones of the Adrenal Glands

    The role of the adrenal glands in your body is to release certain hormones directly into the bloodstream. Many of these hormones have to do with how the body responds to stress, and some are vital to existence. Both parts of the adrenal glands — the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla — perform distinct and separate functions.

    Each zone of the adrenal cortex secretes a specific hormone. The key hormones produced by the adrenal cortex include:


    Cortisol is a glucocorticoid hormone produced by the zona fasciculata that plays several important roles in the body. It helps control the body’s use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates; suppresses inflammation; regulates blood pressure; increases blood sugar; and can also decrease bone formation.

    This hormone also controls the sleep/wake cycle. It is released during times of stress to help your body get an energy boost and better handle an emergency situation.

    How Adrenal Glands Work to Produce Cortisol

    Adrenal glands produce hormones in response to signals from the pituitary gland in the brain, which reacts to signaling from the hypothalamus, also located in the brain. This is referred to as the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis. As an example, for the adrenal gland to produce cortisol, the following occurs:

    The hypothalamus produces corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) that stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH).

    ACTH then stimulates the adrenal glands to make and release cortisol hormones into the blood.

    Normally, both the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland can sense whether the blood has the appropriate amount of cortisol circulating. If there is too much or too little cortisol, these glands respectively change the amount of CRH and ACTH that gets released. This is referred to as a negative feedback loop.

    Excess cortisol production can occur from nodules in the adrenal gland or excess production of ACTH from a tumor in the pituitary gland or other source.


    This mineralocorticoid hormone produced by the zona glomerulosa plays a central role in regulating blood pressure and certain electrolytes (sodium and potassium). Aldosterone sends signals to the kidneys, resulting in the kidneys absorbing more sodium into the bloodstream and releasing potassium into the urine. This means that aldosterone also helps regulate the blood pH by controlling the levels of electrolytes in the blood.

    DHEA and Androgenic Steroids

    These hormones produced by the zona reticularis are weak male hormones. They are precursor hormones that are converted in the ovaries into female hormones (estrogens) and in the testes into male hormones (androgens). However, estrogens and androgens are produced in much larger amounts by the ovaries and testes.

    Epinephrine (Adrenaline) and Norepinephrine (Noradrenaline)

    The adrenal medulla, the inner part of an adrenal gland, controls hormones that initiate the flight or fight response. The main hormones secreted by the adrenal medulla include epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), which have similar functions.

    Source : www.hopkinsmedicine.org

    Adrenal gland

    Adrenal gland

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Jump to navigation Jump to search Adrenal gland

    The adrenal glands lie above the kidneys.

    Endocrine system Details

    Precursor Mesoderm and neural crest

    System Endocrine system

    Artery Superior, middle and inferior suprarenal arteries

    Vein Suprarenal veins

    Nerve Celiac and renal plexus

    Lymph Lumbar lymph nodes

    Identifiers Latin MeSH D000311 TA98 A11.5.00.001 TA2 3874 FMA 9604

    Anatomical terminology

    [edit on Wikidata]

    The adrenal glands (also known as suprarenal glands) are endocrine glands that produce a variety of hormones including adrenaline and the steroids aldosterone and cortisol.[1][2] They are found above the kidneys. Each gland has an outer cortex which produces steroid hormones and an inner medulla. The adrenal cortex itself is divided into three main zones: the zona glomerulosa, the zona fasciculata and the zona reticularis.[3]

    The adrenal cortex produces three main types of steroid hormones: mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids, and androgens. Mineralocorticoids (such as aldosterone) produced in the zona glomerulosa help in the regulation of blood pressure and electrolyte balance. The glucocorticoids cortisol and cortisone are synthesized in the zona fasciculata; their functions include the regulation of metabolism and immune system suppression. The innermost layer of the cortex, the zona reticularis, produces androgens that are converted to fully functional sex hormones in the gonads and other target organs.[4] The production of steroid hormones is called steroidogenesis, and involves a number of reactions and processes that take place in cortical cells.[5] The medulla produces the catecholamines, which function to produce a rapid response throughout the body in stress situations.[4]

    A number of endocrine diseases involve dysfunctions of the adrenal gland. Overproduction of cortisol leads to Cushing's syndrome, whereas insufficient production is associated with Addison's disease. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is a genetic disease produced by dysregulation of endocrine control mechanisms.[4][6] A variety of tumors can arise from adrenal tissue and are commonly found in medical imaging when searching for other diseases.[7]


    1 Structure 1.1 Adrenal cortex

    1.1.1 Zona glomerulosa

    1.1.2 Zona fasciculata

    1.1.3 Zona reticularis

    1.2 Medulla 1.3 Blood supply 1.4 Variability 2 Function 2.1 Corticosteroids 2.2 Androgens 2.3 Catecholamines

    3 Gene and protein expression

    4 Development 4.1 Cortex 4.1.1 Adrenarche 4.2 Medulla

    5 Clinical significance

    5.1 Corticosteroid overproduction

    5.1.1 Cushing's syndrome

    5.1.2 Primary aldosteronism

    5.2 Adrenal insufficiency

    5.2.1 Addison's disease

    5.2.2 Secondary adrenal insufficiency

    5.2.3 Congenital adrenal hyperplasia

    5.3 Adrenal tumors 6 History 7 See also 8 References 9 External links


    Adrenal glands, anterior (left) and posterior (right) surface.

    The adrenal glands are located on both sides of the body in the retroperitoneum, above and slightly medial to the kidneys. In humans, the right adrenal gland is pyramidal in shape, whereas the left is semilunar or crescent shaped and somewhat larger.[8] The adrenal glands measure approximately 5 cm in length, 3 cm in width, and up to 1 cm in thickness.[9] Their combined weight in an adult human ranges from 7 to 10 grams.[10] The glands are yellowish in colour.[8]

    The adrenal glands are surrounded by a fatty capsule and lie within the renal fascia, which also surrounds the kidneys. A weak septum (wall) of connective tissue separates the glands from the kidneys.[11] The adrenal glands are directly below the diaphragm, and are attached to the crura of the diaphragm by the renal fascia.[11]

    Each adrenal gland has two distinct parts, each with a unique function, the outer adrenal cortex and the inner medulla, both of which produce hormones.[12]

    Adrenal cortex[edit]

    Main article: Adrenal cortex

    Section of human adrenal gland under the microscope, showing its different layers. From the surface to the center: zona glomerulosa, zona fasciculata, zona reticularis, medulla. In the medulla, the central adrenomedullary vein is visible.

    The adrenal cortex is the outer region and also the largest part of an adrenal gland. It is divided into three separate zones: zona glomerulosa, zona fasciculata and zona reticularis. Each zone is responsible for producing specific hormones. The adrenal cortex is the outermost layer of the adrenal gland. Within the cortex are three layers, called "zones". When viewed under a microscope each layer has a distinct appearance, and each has a different function.[13] The adrenal cortex is devoted to production of hormones, namely aldosterone, cortisol, and androgens.[14]

    Source : en.wikipedia.org

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