1. How Insulin and Cortisol Differs
Cortisol and insulin are regulatory hormones which differ in functionality and solubility. Insulin is water soluble while cortisol is fat soluble. Thus, their mode of work is different. Insulin hormone and most if not all water soluble molecules attach to a molecule causing a chemical reaction. The chemical reaction causes activation of enzymes that situates in the cell. In effect, the proteins control the speed of the biochemical process. On the other hand, Cortisol, or fat-soluble molecules, move inside the cell where it attaches itself to form the hormone-receptor complex. The product then approaches the nucleus of the cell. It is at this point that the hormone-receptor complex connects to a DNA region (Macek, Baade, Bornn, Bacher, 1956). In effect, activation occurs, the attachment that happens as a result of hormone-receptor complex binding leads genes to either be active or inactive. It is this process that regulates the biochemical activity.
2. Functional Relationship between Hypothalamus and Pituitary Gland
The pituitary gland has two main parts that are the anterior and posterior part. Both parts have a functional relationship with the hypothalamus. To start with the anterior pituitary gland, it is under the influence of hormone that originates from the hypothalamus, specifically, the anterior lobe of the hypothalamus. On the other hand, the posterior part of pituitary gland works under the influence of nerves that comes from the hypothalamus (Mitrovic). Unlike anterior pituitary gland, posterior pituitary gland does not have the ability to release hormones but produces those that originate from the hypothalamus.
Anterior Pituitary Hormones
This part of the pituitary gland manufactures hormones. However, the hypothalamus plays a role in regulating the release of these hormones. It does so by having two classes of hormones, that is, the releasing hormones and the inhibiting ones. The primary function of releasing hormones of the hypothalamus is to stimulate the release of hormones from anterior pituitary glands ( Mitrovic). However, inhibiting hormones function to hinder secretion of hormones of the pituitary gland. Blood vessels play the role of transporting hormones from hypothalamus to the pituitary gland. The hypophyseal portal system acts like a network which enables hormones coming from the hypothalamus to relay to the anterior pituitary gland.
Posterior Pituitary Hormones
This structure is close to the hypothalamus making it even easier to have a functional relationship. The role of this organ is to not only store secretion from the hypothalamus, which is hormones but releases them as well. A region called paraventricular nuclei in the hypothalamus releases oxytocin, while ADH comes from supraoptic nuclei, the two hormones travel for storage in the posterior pituitary gland, specifically, in the axon terminals ( Mitrovic). It is the same hypothalamus that releases the two hormones that also send a signal to the pituitary gland into the blood circulation system.
Figure 1: The image showing hypothalamus, (Ebneshahidi, 2007)
3. Neurons and Hormones
Neurons allow direct communication; they create a physical link between the brain/spinal cord and the effector organ (muscle or gland). The hormones, however, acts in an indirect manner, they initiate or regulate processes indirectly.
Additionally, neurons allow very fast (milliseconds) communication. On the other hand, hormones are slower in communication in comparison to neurons.
To create a long term effect, neurons have to fire repeatedly. Hormones, in contrast, last for a long time; it can be a few seconds to few days.
Nervous system works to achieve homeostasis. However, hormones not only work to achieve homeostasis, but can also function to aid in growth, menstruation and other physiological processes.
A loud noise or pain stimulates a nervous response. On the other hand, stimulation of hormones involves signals or other hormones.
Neurons do not (in general) influence puberty or growth. But hormones do influence puberty and growth as there are specific hormones that stimulate this.
4. Adrenal Glands
The adrenal gland has two parts, which is, endocrine glands, that is, adrenal medulla and adrenal cortex (Arafah and Auchus, 2010). They have various functions which entail regulatory, through secretion of hormones. Hormones that play these roles include but are not limited to corticosterone, cortisone, and cortisol, or termed as glucocorticoids. The role of these hormones is to stimulate the process of gluconeogenesis which is the conversion of amino acids into carbohydrates. In addition to that, they encourage the formation of glycogen in reverse process, in some tissues. Moreover, the adrenal glands hormones are actively involved in lipid and even protein metabolism.
Stimulation of adrenal hormones
Most of the hormones of adrenal glands come about as a result of stress. Their release comes about as a result of signals, especially from the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. Cortisol is an example of adrenal hormone; it aids human bodies to cope with stress (Arafah and Auchus, 2010). Cortisol, for instance, undergoes four steps. It starts with hypothalamus secreting corticotropin-releasing hormone also denoted as CRH, it then has an effect on pituitary gland by stimulating the pituitary gland to produce adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH). Then, it is the ACTH that stimulates adrenal glands to not only make but release cortisol into the blood stream as well.
Positive and Negative Impact of Adrenaline
Adrenaline also called epinephrine has several advantages most of which are significant in coping with instances of emergencies. These entail an increase in blood pressure, blood sugar level and blood flow to skeletal muscles. Furthermore, adrenaline helps in reducing the clotting time and dilation of pupil among others (Wortsman, 2002). However, increase in blood pressure may prove to be disadvantageous as it may cause cardiac arrest or bursting of blood vessels. In addition to that, a rise in glucose levels in the blood is not a good thing in diabetics patients, especially, diabetic type 2, thus becoming another disadvantage of adrenaline.
Adrenal Medulla and Adrenal Cortex
Both adrenal medulla and Cortex are essential in the body of human beings. The former is important in the secretion of adrenaline and noradrenaline while the latter is crucial in the regulation of salt and water and also in the regulation of carbohydrates and protein metabolism. However, the essence of adrenal medulla appears to be less in comparison to the adrenal cortex as the removal of adrenal cortex from the body does not make the body incapable of responding to flight-or-fight. The reason being that sympathetic nerve can substitute adrenal medulla in functionality. Moreover, the nervous system can compensate for the hormonal absence. Thus, comparatively, it is better to damage the adrenal medulla than the cortex. I, therefore, agree with the argument, because there will be no significant harm in the absence of adrenal medulla in the body of human beings.
Arafah, B.M., and Auchus, R.J., 2010. Adrenal Insufficiency. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 95(8).
Ebneshahidi, A., 2007. Hypothalumus. Pearson Education, Inc. Benjamin Cummings.
Mitrovic, I., MD Introduction to the HypothalamoPituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis (Lecture) Professor Department of Physiology University of California San Francisco 521 Parnassus Avenue, Room C- 351. Email: [email protected] phy. ucsf. Edu.
Macek, T.J., Baade, W.H., Bornn, A. and Bacher, F.A., 1952. Observations on the solubility of some cortical hormones. Science (New York, NY), 116(3015), pp.399-399.
Wortsman, J., 2002. The role of epinephrine in acute stress. Endocrinology and metabolism clinics of North America, 31(1), pp.79-106.
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