Login
Copyright

Adrenal Cortex: Glucocorticoids and Androgens

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Adrenal Cortex: Aldosterone and Body Fluid Balance

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:05 Adrenal Cortex
  • 0:48 Glucocorticoids
  • 3:14 Androgens
  • 4:34 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

The adrenal cortex secretes steroid hormones. In this lesson, you will learn about two of these steroid hormones: glucocorticoids, which help you deal with long-term stress, and androgens, which influence male sexual characteristics.

Adrenal Cortex

Adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys.
Adrenal Gland Kidney Diagram

The adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys. These are endocrine organs, which means that they secrete hormones directly into your bloodstream. When we take a look inside an adrenal gland, we see that it looks like two different structures. There is the central area called the adrenal medulla, which is enclosed by the adrenal cortex. The adrenal cortex is the outer portion of the adrenal gland that secretes steroid hormones. There are three major groups of steroid hormones known as mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids and sex hormones. In this lesson, we will learn about two of those groups, the glucocorticoids and the sex hormones.

Glucocorticoids

The adrenal cortex is actually comprised of three layers, and the middle layer is where we see the production of glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids play an important role in the body. They promote carbohydrate metabolism and help the body cope with long-term stressors. The term 'glucocorticoid' is easy to recall when we break the word down. The prefix 'gluco' refers to glucose, which is the main carbohydrate we see being metabolized, and the suffix 'corticoid' refers to the adrenal cortex, where the hormones originate. We see that glucocorticoids are secreted from the adrenal cortex only after the cortex is stimulated by the hormone adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH comes from the anterior pituitary gland, which we recall is often referred to as the 'master gland' because its hormones influence so many other glands, such as the adrenal cortex.

ACTH from the anterior pituitary in the brain stimulates the adrenal cortex.
Pituitary Adrenal Cortex Diagram

Interestingly, ACTH is secreted in response to stress. Therefore, we can see how stress ultimately triggers the release of glucocorticoids, which then in turn help us deal with the stressor. The stress we are talking about here is long-term stress, such as prolonged fasting or prolonged exercise or even prolonged emotional stress, such as the loss of a loved one.

When glucocorticoids are released, we see blood glucose levels rise. This is partly because glucocorticoids promote gluconeogenesis, which we recall is the increased synthesis of glucose from molecules that are not carbohydrates, such as proteins and fats. This additional glucose can be utilized by your body cells for extra energy during the stressful period.

The most important glucocorticoid in your body is called cortisol. We can define cortisol as a steroid hormone from the adrenal cortex that regulates carbohydrate metabolism and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Cortisol is also called hydrocortisone. While all glucocorticoids help the body deal with inflammation, you may be familiar with the term 'hydrocortisone' because it's sometimes produced synthetically and turned into a medication that is used to treat a wide range of inflammatory conditions from skin disorders to arthritis.

Androgens

We mentioned that the adrenal cortex is comprised of three layers. The innermost layer produces sex hormones. The sex hormones are steroid hormones produced by the adrenal cortex that influence male and female sexual characteristics. These hormones are produced in smaller amounts in the adrenal cortex than we see from the gonads, which are the major producer of sex hormones.

But, it's interesting to note that regardless of whether you are male or female, your adrenal cortex secretes both male and female sex hormones throughout life. Estrogen is the female sex hormone secreted in small amounts from the adrenal cortex. Estrogen is secreted in smaller amounts than androgens, which are the male sex hormones secreted from the adrenal cortex.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher
What is your educational goal?
 Back

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support