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cortisol





cortisol
A hormone belonging to the class known as glucocorticoids, which affect almost every organ and tissue in the body. Cortisol is produced by the cortex of the adrenal glands. Its most important job is to help the body respond to stress. Among its many other vital tasks, cortisol
  • helps maintain blood pressure and cardiovascular function
  • helps slow the immune system's inflammatory response
  • helps balance the effects of insulin in breaking down sugar for energy
  • helps regulate the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats
  • helps maintain proper arousal and sense of well-being
Because cortisol is so vital to health, the amount of cortisol produced by the adrenals is precisely balanced. Like many other hormones, cortisol is regulated by the brain's hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, a bean-sized organ at the base of the brain. First, the hypothalamus sends "releasing hormones" to the pituitary gland. The pituitary responds by secreting hormones that regulate growth and thyroid and adrenal function, and sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. One of the pituitary's main functions is to secrete adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), a hormone that stimulates the adrenal glands. When the adrenals receive the pituitary's signal in the form of ACTH, they respond by producing cortisol. Completing the cycle, cortisol then signals the pituitary to lower secretion of ACTH.


Related category

   • BIOCHEMISTRY

Source: National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service