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The 2 adrenal glands are part of the body’s endocrine systemendocrine systemThe group of glands and cells in the body that make and release hormones (which control many functions such as growth, reproduction, sleep, hunger and metabolism) into the blood.. They are found just above each kidney, deep inside the upper part of the abdomen.
The adrenal glands are made up of 3 layers of tissue:
As part of the endocrine system, the adrenal glands produce hormoneshormonesA substance that regulates specific body functions, such as metabolism, growth and reproduction..
The adrenal cortex produces several hormones. The most important are aldosterone (a mineralocorticoid), cortisol (a glucocorticoid), and androgen and estrogen (sex hormones). These hormones manage metabolism and body characteristics, such as hair growth and body shape.
The adrenal cortex is made up of inner, middle and outer layers. Aldosterone is produced in the outer layer. Cortisol, androgen and estrogen are produced in the inner layer (active zone) and stored in the middle layer (storage zone). In times of stress, the storage zone shrinks and the active zone thickens to secrete more hormones.
The hormones produced by the adrenal medulla are called catecholamines. They act as hormones and as neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the nervous system). They manage the body’s response to stress. The 2 more important catecholamines are:
The adrenal medulla also produces the protein chromogranin A, which is stored and secreted with epinephrine and norepinephrine.
The capsule surrounds and protects the adrenal gland.
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