Merck Manual

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Major Hormones

Major Hormones

Where Hormone Is Produced

Hormone

Function

Adipose (fat) tissue

Leptin

Regulates energy balance by controlling appetite

Resistin

Blocks the effects of insulin on muscle

Adrenal glands

Aldosterone

Helps regulate salt and water balance by causing the kidneys to retain salt and water and excrete potassium

Cortisol

Has widespread effects throughout the body

Especially has anti-inflammatory action

Maintains blood sugar level, blood pressure, and muscle strength

Helps control salt and water balance

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)

Used in the production of androgens (male sex hormones) and estrogens (female sex hormones)

Has effects on bone, mood, and the immune system

Epinephrine and norepinephrine

Stimulate the heart, lungs, blood vessels, and nervous system

Digestive tract

Cholecystokinin

Controls gallbladder contractions that cause bile to enter the intestine

Stimulates release of digestive enzymes from the pancreas

Ghrelin

Controls growth hormone release from the pituitary gland

Causes sensation of hunger

Glucagon-like peptide

Increases insulin release from the pancreas

Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide

Controls smooth muscle cell activity, epithelial cell secretions, and blood flow in the gastrointestinal tract

Hypothalamus

Corticotropin-releasing hormone

Stimulates release of corticotropin (also called adrenocorticotropic hormone [ACTH])

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone

Stimulates release of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone

Growth hormone–releasing hormone

Stimulates release of growth hormone

Somatostatin

Inhibits release of growth hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and insulin

Thyrotropin-releasing hormone

Stimulates the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone and prolactin

Kidneys

Erythropoietin

Stimulates red blood cell production

Renin

Controls sodium, potassium, and water levels that affect blood pressure

Ovaries

Estrogen

Controls the development of female sex characteristics and the reproductive system

Progesterone

Prepares the lining of the uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg and readies the mammary glands to secrete milk

Pancreas

Glucagon

Raises the blood sugar level

Insulin

Lowers the blood sugar level

Affects the processing (metabolism) of sugar, protein, and fat throughout the body

Parathyroid glands

Parathyroid hormone

Controls bone formation, blood calcium level, and the excretion of calcium and phosphorus by the kidneys

Pituitary gland

Corticotropin (also called adrenocorticotropic hormone [ACTH])

Controls the production and secretion of hormones by the adrenal glands

Growth hormone

Controls growth and development

Promotes protein production

Luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone

Control reproductive functions, including the production of sperm and semen in men and egg maturation and menstrual cycles in women

Control male and female sexual characteristics (including hair distribution, muscle formation, skin texture and thickness, pitch of voice, and perhaps even personality traits)

Oxytocin

Causes muscles of the uterus to contract during childbirth and after delivery and stimulates contractions of milk ducts in the breast, which move milk to the nipple

Prolactin

Starts and maintains milk production in the ductal glands of the breast (mammary glands)

Thyroid-stimulating hormone

Stimulates the production and secretion of hormones by the thyroid gland

Vasopressin (antidiuretic hormone)

Causes kidneys to retain water to prevent dehydration and, along with aldosterone, helps control blood pressure

Placenta

Chorionic gonadotropin

Stimulates ovaries to continue to release progesterone during early pregnancy

Estrogen and progesterone

Keep uterus receptive to fetus and placenta during pregnancy

Testes

Testosterone

Controls the development of male sex characteristics and the reproductive system

Thyroid gland

Calcitonin

Tends to decrease blood calcium levels and helps regulate calcium balance

Thyroid hormones

Regulate the rate at which the body functions (metabolic rate)