July 30, 2012

Adrenal gland and its hormones

The Adrenal glands describe the paired organs, each of which sits on the two kidneys. They are very vital for the normal functioning of the body.

The human adrenals comprise of two layers - the outer cortex and the inner medulla - which together secrete several hormones.

Below are mnemonics to aid memory for these layers and hormones.

The Adrenal cortex
The 3 zones or layers of the cortex (from outermost to innermost) - GFR:
  • Glomerulosa, 
  • Fasciculata, 
  • Reticularis.
The outer cortex produce steroids. These steroid products are grouped into 3 classes based on their predominant physiological effects (from outermost to innermost layer) - For salt, sugar, and sex; the deeper you go, the sweeter it gets:
  • Salt - mineralocorticoid (aldosterone), 
  • Sugar - glucocorticoids (cortisol), 
  • Sex - sex hormones i.e. androgens.
The major hormones secreted by the cortex starts with either of letters A or C: Androgen, Aldosterone, Cortisol.


The Adrenal medulla
The adrenal medulla secrete the stress hormones - Epinephrine and Norepinephrine - in response to stress in MEN:
  • Medulla => Epinephrine + Norepinephrine
The inner medulla synthesizes, stores and secretes catecholamines.

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