List of Important Human Hormones and their Functions
Hormones control the functioning of the body in various ways. A hormone stimulates or inhibits the release of another hormone and controls the functions of the bodily systems like the immune system, digestive system, reproductive system, nervous system, etc. Hormones determine the rate of metabolism and the overall health and behavior pattern of an individual. The following table describes the significance of hormones and their functions. Take a look at the list of hormones to understand the wonderful mechanism of human body.
Name and Description Origin Main Functions
(A type of protein)
Adipose tissue or body fat
It controls several metabolic processes like glucose regulation and lipid catabolism, helps prevent diseases like atherosclerosis, obesity, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), etc.
Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)
(Important component of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis)
It enhances lipoprotein uptake into cortical cells so that more cholesterol is made available to the cells of the adrenal cortex. It promotes the transport of cholesterol into the mitochondria and stimulates its hydrolysis. It plays an important role in the synthesis and secretion of gluco- and mineralo-corticosteroids and androgenic steroids.
Outer part of the adrenal cortex in the adrenal gland
It promotes reabsorption of sodium in kidneys and increased blood volume, release of potassium and hydrogen through kidneys, increased water retention and rise in blood pressure levels.
(4-androstenedione and 17-ketoestosterone)
Adrenal glands and the gonads
It promotes the production of estrogen in granulosa cells by supplying androstenedione substrate.
Angiotensinogen and angiotensin
It secretes aldosterone from adrenal cortex dipsogen, and causes vasoconstriction or the narrowing of the blood vessels.
Antidiuretic hormone (ADH)
(vasopressin or arginine vasopressin)
It secretes ACTH in anterior pituitary, causes vasoconstriction up to a moderate degree, and causes water retention in kidneys.
Antimullerian hormone (AMH)
(a type of protein, also known as Müllerian inhibiting factor (MIF))
It curbs the secretion of prolactin and TRH from anterior pituitary, and inhibits the development of the mullerian ducts into the uterus.
Atrial-natriuretic peptide (ANP)(Atriopeptin)
It enhances the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), leading to greater excretion of sodium and water, and enhances the release of free fatty acids from adipose tissue.
Brain natriuretic peptide (BNP)
(B-type natriuretic peptide)
It helps to lower blood pressure as it helps reduce systemic vascular resistance. It also lowers the level of blood water, sodium and fats.
(25-hydroxyvitamin D3 or inactive form of vitamin D3)
Skin/proximal tubule of kidneys
It is useful to know the vitamin D status, and promotes absorption of calcium from the gut.
(Active form of vitamin D3)
It lowers blood calcium levels by inhibiting calcium absorption in the intestines, and it also inhibits absorption of calcium by kidneys and thus promotes excretion of calcium through urine. It prevents osteoclast activity in bones and plays an important role in vitamin D regulation.
Skin/proximal tubule of kidneys
It controls the transfer of calcium from blood to the urine by kidneys, enhances absorption of calcium from the gut into the blood and promotes the release of calcium into the blood from bone. It also inhibits the release of calcitonin.
(A peptide hormone)
Duodenum (first part of the small intestine)
It promotes the release of digestive enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the gallbladder, plays the role of a hunger suppressant, it is associated with drug tolerance and is involved in exhibition of symptoms of drug withdrawal. It is responsible for proper digestion and satiety.
Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)
(corticoliberin, a polypeptide hormone and neurotransmitter)
It is released in response to stress, promotes the release of ACTH from anterior pituitary, determines the gestation period and triggers the onset of parturition and the timing of delivery.
Cortisol (a steroid hormone)
It is produced in response to stress and decreased level of blood glucocorticoids. It regulates the metabolism of glucose, and suppresses the immune system. It promotes the metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrate, it reduces bone formation. It also promotes maturation of the lungs of the fetus. It controls sodium loss through the small intestine and helps maintain the pH. It is a diuretic hormone which helps enhance gastric acid secretion and release of copper enzymes.
Testes, ovaries, kidneys
It plays an important role in virilization (prenatal changes that determine the sex, postnatal changes leading to normal male puberty, and effects of too much androgen in girls or women) and anabolism (involves processes that lead to development of organs and tissues).
(an androgen or male sex hormone)
The enzyme 5α-reductase promotes the production of the hormone in the prostate, testes, hair follicles, and adrenal glands.
It’s responsible for male pattern baldness. It plays an important role in prostate growth (benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer) and differentiation.
(Prolactin inhibiting hormone)
Kidneys and hypothalamus.
It determines your behavior, cognition and voluntary movement. It increases heart rate and blood pressure. It plays an important role in the psychological features like motivation, punishment and reward. It controls the sleep pattern, mood, concentration, working memory, and learning skills.
(A type of protein)
X cells of the stomach
It promotes smooth contraction of the stomach muscles.
It is associated with the regulation of pain.
(Adrenaline, a hormone and a neurotransmitter)
It determines the ‘flight or fight’ response, enhances the supply of oxygen and glucose to the brain and muscles by increasing the heart rate and stroke volume, and enhances the catalysis of glycogen in liver, etc. It promotes relaxation/contraction of smooth muscles depending upon the tissue it acts upon. It also stimulates the breakdown of lipids in fat cells. It suppresses the activities of the immune system.
It enhances the production of erythrocytes (red blood cells).
In males: Testes; In females: Ovaries
In males, it prevents apoptosis (programed cell death) of germ cells. In females, it plays an important role in blood coagulation, fluid balance, certain types of breast cancers, functioning of the lungs, health of blood vessels and skin, etc. It enhances fat burning activity, uterine and endometrial growth, bone formation, etc. It determines your height, helps lower muscle mass, and reduces bowel movement. It promotes protein synthesis and increases good cholesterol, triglyceride, cortisol, growth hormone, etc.
(sex hormone, a type of estrogen)
Placenta during pregnancy
It helps keep the uterus quiescent during pregnancy.
(sex hormone, a type of estrogen)
Ovary and adipose tissue
It helps maintain the overall health, especially the health of postmenopausal women and keeps certain diseases away.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
Anterior pituitary gland
Follicle-stimulating hormone function involves maturation of Graafian follicles in the ovaries. It promotes spermatogenesis and stimulates the production of androgen-binding protein in testes, in men. It governs the growth, onset of puberty and other reproductive processes of the body.
Stomach, duodenum and pancreas
It stimulates the production of certain digestive enzymes like pepsin, promotes stomach contractions, enhances antral muscle mobility and secretion of gastric acid, triggers pancreatic secretions and emptying of gallbladder, etc.
(counterpart of the hormone leptin)
It stimulates your appetite and also regulates the release of growth hormone from the anterior pituitary gland.
(counterpart of the hormone insulin)
It raises blood glucose levels. It is released when blood glucose levels drop. It stimulates the process of conversion of stored glycogen into glucose in the liver.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)
It triggers the release of FSH and LH (luteinizing hormone) from the anterior pituitary gland.
Growth hormone (GH or hGH)
(A peptide hormone)
It triggers cell reproduction and determines the growth and regeneration. It strengthens the bones by increasing calcium retention, helps maintain the function of pancreatic islets, it enhances protein synthesis, increases muscle mass and strengthens the immune system. It is responsible for the growth of the internal organs except brain. It also promotes the breakdown of lipids and hydrolysis of triglycerides.
Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH)
(growth-hormone-releasing factor (GRF or GHRF))
It triggers the release of growth hormone from the anterior pituitary gland.
(Also acts as a neurotransmitter)
It stimulates the release of gastric acid. It also triggers the inflammatory responses of the body. It plays an important role in sleep regulation, erection and sexual function, memory, and immune system disorders and allergies.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)
(a glycoprotein hormone)
It helps maintain the health of the corpus luteum during early pregnancy, leading to increased release of progesterone. Thus, it helps protect the fetus. It determines the severity of morning sickness in pregnant women.
Human placental lactogen (HPL)
(human chorionic somatomammotropin)
It carries anti-insulin properties. It raises maternal blood glucose levels and decreases maternal glucose utilization. It thus ensures adequate nutrition for the fetus. It increases insulin resistance and carbohydrate intolerance.
(Counterpart of the hormone Activin)
Fetus, testes and ovaries
It inhibits FSH production and secretion.
Beta cells of the pancreas
It governs the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, helps maintain blood glucose levels by promoting the absorption of glucose in the cells of liver, muscle, and fat tissues. Glucose is stored in the form of glycogen in the muscles and the liver. Insulin inhibits the release of glucagon and does not allow the body to use fat as an energy source. It is involved in several metabolic processes.
Insulin-like growth factor (IGF or somatomedin)
It governs the growth and development of cells. Both insulin and IGF play an important role in aging. Studies show that IGF-1 is sometimes responsible for the development of both prostate and breast cancer cells.
(Counterpart of the hormone Ghrelin)
It decreases your appetite and increases the rate of metabolism. Leptin and ghrelin play an important role in weight management.
Eicosanoid lipid mediators
It stimulates contractions in the smooth muscles located in the lining of the trachea and is mainly involved in the inflammatory response of the body.
It promotes the breakdown of lipids and triglycerides. It also stimulates the processes that lead to the production of steroids from cholesterol and transformation of a steroid to another steroid. It also encourages melanocytes to produce melanin.
Luteinizing hormone (LH)
It regulates ovulation in females. In males, testosterone is produced in the testicles in the presence of this hormone.
Melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH or α-MSH)
Internediate lobe of the pituitary
It controls your appetite and sexual arousal. It stimulates the melanocytes in skin and hair to produce and release more melanin.
It works as an antioxidant and plays an important role in the circadian rhythms. It is released in darkness and causes drowsiness.
Neuropeptide Y (NPY)
(Acts as a neurotransmitter)
It promotes several physiologic processes in the brain, like, regulation of memory, cognition, etc. It may lead to increased food intake and decreased physical activity.
(Noradrenaline, acts as a neurotransmitter)
It determines the fight or flight response. Epinephrine and nonepinephrine are stress hormones and they increase heart and respiration rates.
It is responsible for increased appetite, high energy level and stamina. It also controls wakefulness.
It is essential for the release of breast milk. It also governs the contraction of muscles during orgasm. It regulates body temperature, determines the activity level and governs wakefulness.
It helps the pancreas in the secretion activities, regulates glycogen levels in the liver and gastrointestinal secretions.
Parathyroid hormone (PTH)
(Parathormone or Parathyrin)
It plays an important role in maintaining blood calcium levels and promotes calcium reabsorption in kidneys. It lowers blood phosphate and activates vitamin D.
Ovaries and adrenal glands; and placenta during pregnancy
It regulates the menstrual cycle and supports pregnancy. It also promotes thyroid function and bone growth. It is involved in relaxation of smooth muscles, use of fat stores for energy, it helps maintain zinc and copper levels and oxygen level in cells, it helps prevent endometrial cancer. It is associated with several other important processes that take place in the body.
(Luteotropic hormone or LTH)
Anterior pituitary and uterus
It stimulates the production of milk in mammary glands and is responsible for the sensation of pleasure during sexual activities. It also determines sexual behavior of an individual.
Prolactin Releasing Hormone (PRH)
It stimulates the release of prolactin in the anterior pituitary gland.
Endothelium (cells in the thin layer which covers the interior surface of blood vessels)
It is involved in the relaxation of smooth muscles and widening of blood vessels.
They perform different functions in different areas. They control calcium movement, promote cell growth, flow of the hormones, trigger hypothalamus to produce fever, promote constriction or dilation in vascular smooth muscle cells, lower intraocular pressure, induce labor, give us the feeling of pain, help to enhance the rate of glomeruli filtration, etc.
Its exact function is not yet known. It is believed that it increases the motility of sperms in semen. In women, its levels keep on changing during the menstruation cycles.
It influences the mean arterial blood pressure in the body. It raises blood pressure and helps maintain the perfusion pressure in the kidneys.
It regulates the secretions into the duodenum. It inhibits the production of gastric juice and helps maintain the pH of the duodenum. It controls the osmotic pressure in the body. Latest researches have shown that it is responsible for maintaining normal osmotic pressure in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and kidneys.
Central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract
It regulates movements of the intestine, appetite, sleep and mood. It determines your learning skills and memory. It also plays an important role in ‘blood clotting’ and ‘wound healing’.
(growth hormone-inhibiting hormone (GHIH) or somatotropin release-inhibiting factor (SRIF))
Hypothalamus, gastrointestinal tract, islets of Langerhans (pancreas)
It brings down the rate of smooth muscle contractions and lowers the blood flow within the intestine and thus lowers the rate of gastric emptying. It curbs the action of pancreas and inhibits the release of insulin and glucagon. It curbs the release of gastrointestinal hormones and growth hormone (GH).
Testosterone (Male sex hormone)
Testes in males and ovaries in females, adrenal glands.
It determines the bone density, strength and muscle mass. It plays an important role in the growth of the Adam’s apple, beard and axillary hair, chest hair, leg hair, etc., and in the associated changes like deepening of voice, puberty (maturation of sexual organs), development of scrotum, libido, etc.
(Megakaryocyte growth and development factor (MGDF))
Liver, kidneys, striated muscles.
It helps produce platelets in the bone marrow.
(A type of lipid belonging to the group ‘eicosanoids’.)
It plays an important role in clotting of blood (thrombosis). It promotes aggregation of platelets and acts as a vasoconstrictor.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
Anterior pituitary gland
It regulates the release of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH)
(Thyroliberin or protirelin)
It regulates the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone, and it promotes the release of prolactin in the anterior pituitary gland.
(A thyroid hormone)
It regulates the rate of metabolic processes, it plays an important role in protein synthesis and determines the physical growth.
(A thyroid hormone)
It stimulates the basal metabolic rate, it increases the heart rate, the rate of protein synthesis and protein degradation, glucose synthesis, lipolysis, etc. It plays an important role in the development of embryo and infants.
I hope you found the list of hormones useful. It is necessary to know the nature of human hormones and their importance in body metabolism. Production and flow of one hormone can affect the rate of production and functions of some other hormones. Therefore, maintaining ‘hormone balance’ is very important for being healthy and active. In case of hormonal imbalance, doctors recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that involves intake of synthetic or bioidentical hormones which may lead to certain side effects. Balanced diet and regular exercise play an important role in hormone balance. Leading a stress-free lifestyle helps maintain the balance of hormones. Thus, you can stay away from diseases and disorders by following a nutritious diet, performing proper exercises, and leading a healthy lifestyle.
By Leena Palande
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