Vitamins and hormones

Analysis of the term "vitamin", its biochemical functions and health effects. Classification of deficiencies of vitamins. Pharmacology, history and etymology of vitamin. Analysis of the term "hormone", its biosynthesis, secretion and effects on the body.

Рубрика Биология и естествознание
Вид реферат
Язык английский
Дата добавления 23.12.2015
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1. Vitamin

A vitamin (US /?va?t?m?n/ and UK /?v?t?m?n/) is an organic compound and a vital nutrient that an organism requires in limited amounts. An organic chemical compound (or related set of compounds) is called a vitamin when the organism cannot synthesize the compound in sufficient quantities, and it must be obtained through the diet; thus, the term "vitamin" is conditional upon the circumstances and the particular organism. For example, ascorbic acid (one form of vitamin C) is a vitamin for humans, but not for most other animal organisms. Supplementation is important for the treatment of certain health problems, but there is little evidence of nutritional benefit when used by otherwise healthy people.

By convention the term vitamin includes neither other essential nutrients, such as dietary minerals, essential fatty acids, or essential amino acids (which are needed in greater amounts than vitamins) nor the great number of other nutrients that promote health, and are required less often to maintain the health of the organism. Thirteen vitamins are universally recognized at present. Vitamins are classified by their biological and chemical activity, not their structure. Thus, each "vitamin" refers to a number of vitamer compounds that all show the biological activity associated with a particular vitamin. Such a set of chemicals is grouped under an alphabetized vitamin "generic descriptor" title, such as "vitamin A", which includes the compounds retinal, retinol, and four known carotenoids. Vitamers by definition are convertible to the active form of the vitamin in the body, and are sometimes inter-convertible to one another, as well.

Vitamins have diverse biochemical functions. Some, such as vitamin D, have hormone-like functions as regulators of mineral metabolism, or regulators of cell and tissue growth and differentiation (such as some forms of vitamin A). Others function as antioxidants (e.g., vitamin E and sometimes vitamin C). The largest number of vitamins, the B complex vitamins, function as precursors for enzyme cofactors, that help enzymes in their work as catalysts in metabolism. In this role, vitamins may be tightly bound to enzymes as part of prosthetic groups: For example, biotin is part of enzymes involved in making fatty acids. They may also be less tightly bound to enzyme catalysts as coenzymes, detachable molecules that function to carry chemical groups or electrons between molecules. For example, folic acid may carry methyl, formyl, and methylene groups in the cell. Although these roles in assisting enzyme-substrate reactions are vitamins' best-known function, the other vitamin functions are equally important.

Until the mid-1930s, when the first commercial yeast-extract vitamin B complex and semi-synthetic vitamin C supplement tablets were sold, vitamins were obtained solely through food intake, and changes in diet (which, for example, could occur during a particular growing season) usually greatly altered the types and amounts of vitamins ingested. However, vitamins have been produced as commodity chemicals and made widely available as inexpensive semisynthetic and synthetic-source multivitamin dietary and food supplements and additives, since the middle of the 20th century. Study of structural activity, function and their role in maintaining health is called vitaminology.

2. Health effects

Vitamins are essential for the normal growth and development of a multicellular organism. Using the genetic blueprint inherited from its parents, a fetus begins to develop, at the moment of conception, from the nutrients it absorbs. It requires certain vitamins and minerals to be present at certain times. These nutrients facilitate the chemical reactions that produce among other things, skin, bone, and muscle. If there is serious deficiency in one or more of these nutrients, a child may develop a deficiency disease. Even minor deficiencies may cause permanent damage.

For the most part, vitamins are obtained with food, but a few are obtained by other means. For example, microorganisms in the intestine -- commonly known as "gut flora" -- produce vitamin K and biotin, while one form of vitamin D is synthesized in the skin with the help of the natural ultraviolet wavelength of sunlight. Humans can produce some vitamins from precursors they consume. Examples include vitamin A, produced from beta carotene, and niacin, from the amino acid tryptophan.

Once growth and development are completed, vitamins remain essential nutrients for the healthy maintenance of the cells, tissues, and organs that make up a multicellular organism; they also enable a multicellular life form to efficiently use chemical energy provided by food it eats, and to help process the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats required for respiration.

3. Supplements

In those who are otherwise healthy, there is little evidence that supplements have any benefits with respect to cancer or heart disease. Vitamin A and E supplements not only provide no health benefits for generally healthy individuals, but they may increase mortality, though the two large studies that support this conclusion included smokers for whom it was already known that beta-carotene supplements can be harmful. While other findings suggest that vitamin E toxicity is limited to only a specific form when taken in excess.

The European Union and other countries of Europe have regulations that define limits of vitamin (and mineral) dosages for their safe use as food supplements. Most vitamins that are sold as food supplements cannot exceed a maximum daily dosage.

Vitamin products above these legal limits are not considered food supplements and must be registered as prescription or non-prescription (over-the-counter drugs) due to their potential side effects. As a result, most of the fat-soluble vitamins (such as the vitamins A, D, E, and K) that contain amounts above the daily allowance are drug products. The daily dosage of a vitamin supplement for example cannot exceed 300% of the recommended daily allowance, and for vitamin A, this limit is even lower (200%). Such regulations are applicable in most European countries.

500 mg calcium supplement tablets, with vitamin D, made from calcium carbonate, maltodextrin, mineraloil, hypromellose, glycerin, cholecalciferol, polyethylene glycol, and carnauba wax.

Dietary supplements often contain vitamins, but may also include other ingredients, such as minerals, herbs, and botanicals. Scientific evidence supports the benefits of dietary supplements for persons with certain health conditions. In some cases, vitamin supplements may have unwanted effects, especially if taken before surgery, with other dietary supplements or medicines, or if the person taking them has certain health conditions. They may also contain levels of vitamins many times higher, and in different forms, than one may ingest through food.

4. Effect of cooking

Shown below is percentage loss of vitamins after cooking averaged for common foods such as vegetables, meat or fish.

It should be noted however that some vitamins may become more "bio-available" - that is, usable by the body - when steamed or cooked. 

The table below shows whether various vitamins are susceptible to loss from heat--such as heat from boiling, steaming, cooking etc.--and other agents. The effect of cutting vegetables can be seen from exposure to air and light. Water-soluble vitamins such as B and C seep into the water when a vegetable is boiled.

5. Deficiencies

Humans must consume vitamins periodically but with differing schedules, to avoid deficiency. The human body's stores for different vitamins vary widely; vitamins A, D, and B12 are stored in significant amounts in the human body, mainly in the liver, and an adult human's diet may be deficient in vitamins A and D for many months and B12 in some cases for years, before developing a deficiency condition. However, vitamin B3(niacin and niacinamide) is not stored in the human body in significant amounts, so stores may last only a couple of weeks. For vitamin C, the first symptoms of scurvy in experimental studies of complete vitamin C deprivation in humans have varied widely, from a month to more than six months, depending on previous dietary history that determined body stores.

Deficiencies of vitamins are classified as either primary or secondary. A primary deficiency occurs when an organism does not get enough of the vitamin in its food. A secondary deficiency may be due to an underlying disorder that prevents or limits the absorption or use of the vitamin, due to a "lifestyle factor", such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, or the use of medications that interfere with the absorption or use of the vitamin. People who eat a varied diet are unlikely to develop a severe primary vitamin deficiency. In contrast, restrictive diets have the potential to cause prolonged vitamin deficits, which may result in often painful and potentially deadly diseases.

Well-known human vitamin deficiencies involve thiamine (beriberi), niacin (pellagra), vitamin C (scurvy), and vitamin D (rickets). In much of the developed world, such deficiencies are rare; this is due to (1) an adequate supply of food and (2) the addition of vitamins and minerals to common foods, often called fortification. In addition to these classical vitamin deficiency diseases, some evidence has also suggested links between vitamin deficiency and a number of different disorders.

6. Side-effects

In large doses, some vitamins have documented side-effects that tend to be more severe with a larger dosage. The likelihood of consuming too much of any vitamin from food is remote, but overdosing (vitamin poisoning) from vitamin supplementation does occur. At high enough dosages, some vitamins cause side-effects such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. When side-effects emerge, recovery is often accomplished by reducing the dosage. The doses of vitamins differ because individual tolerances can vary widely and appear to be related to age and state of health.

In 2008, overdose exposure to all formulations of vitamins and multivitamin-mineral formulations was reported by 68,911 individuals to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (nearly 80% of these exposures were in children under the age of 6), leading to 8 "major" life-threatening outcomes, but no deaths.

7. Pharmacology

Vitamins are classified as either water-soluble or fat-soluble. In humans there are 13 vitamins: 4 fat-soluble (A, D, E, and K) and 9 water-soluble (8 B vitamins and vitamin C). Water-soluble vitamins dissolve easily in water and, in general, are readily excreted from the body, to the degree that urinary output is a strong predictor of vitamin consumption. Because they are not as readily stored, more consistent intake is important. Many types of water-soluble vitamins are synthesized by bacteria. Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed through the intestinal tract with the help of lipids (fats). Because they are more likely to accumulate in the body, they are more likely to lead to hypervitaminosis than are water-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamin regulation is of particular significance in cystic fibrosis.

8. History

The value of eating a certain food to maintain health was recognized long before vitamins were identified. The ancient Egyptians knew that feeding liver to a person would help cure night blindness, an illness now known to be caused by a vitamin A deficiency. The advancement of ocean voyages during the Renaissance resulted in prolonged periods without access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and made illnesses from vitamin deficiency common among ships' crews.

In 1747, the Scottish surgeon James Lind discovered that citrus foods helped prevent scurvy, a particularly deadly disease in whichcollagen is not properly formed, causing poor wound healing, bleeding of the gums, severe pain, and death. In 1753, Lind published his Treatise on the Scurvy, which recommended using lemons and limes to avoid scurvy, which was adopted by the British Royal Navy. This led to the nickname Limey for sailors of that organization. Lind's discovery, however, was not widely accepted by individuals in the Royal Navy's Arctic expeditions in the 19th century, where it was widely believed that scurvy could be prevented by practicing goodhygiene, regular exercise, and maintaining the morale of the crew while on board, rather than by a diet of fresh food. As a result, Arctic expeditions continued to be plagued by scurvy and other deficiency diseases. In the early 20th century, when Robert Falcon Scottmade his two expeditions to the Antarctic, the prevailing medical theory at the time was that scurvy was caused by "tainted" canned food.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the use of deprivation studies allowed scientists to isolate and identify a number of vitamins. Lipid from fish oil was used to cure rickets in rats, and the fat-soluble nutrient was called "antirachitic A". Thus, the first "vitamin" bioactivity ever isolated, which cured rickets, was initially called "vitamin A"; however, the bioactivity of this compound is now called vitamin D. In 1881, Russian surgeon Nikolai Lunin studied the effects of scurvy while at the University of Tartu in present-day Estonia. He fed mice an artificial mixture of all the separate constituents of milk known at that time, namely the proteins, fats,carbohydrates, and salts. The mice that received only the individual constituents died, while the mice fed by milk itself developed normally. He made a conclusion that "a natural food such as milk must therefore contain, besides these known principal ingredients, small quantities of unknown substances essential to life." However, his conclusions were rejected by his advisor, Gustav von Bunge, even after other students reproduced his results. A similar result byCornelius Pekelharing appeared in a Dutch medical journal in 1905, but it was not widely reported.

The Ancient Egyptians knew that feeding a person liver would help curenight blindness.In east Asia, where polished white rice was the common staple food of the middle class, beriberi resulting from lack of vitamin B1 was endemic. In 1884, Takaki Kanehiro, a British trained medical doctor of the Imperial Japanese Navy, observed that beriberi was endemic among low-ranking crew who often ate nothing but rice, but not among officers who consumed a Western-style diet. With the support of the Japanese navy, he experimented using crews of two battleships; one crew was fed only white rice, while the other was fed a diet of meat, fish, barley, rice, and beans. The group that ate only white rice documented 161 crew members with beriberi and 25 deaths, while the latter group had only 14 cases of beriberi and no deaths. This convinced Takaki and the Japanese Navy that diet was the cause of beriberi, but they mistakenly believed that sufficient amounts of protein prevented it. That diseases could result from some dietary deficiencies was further investigated by Christiaan Eijkman, who in 1897 discovered that feeding unpolished rice instead of the polished variety to chickens helped to prevent beriberi in the chickens. The following year, Frederick Hopkins postulated that some foods contained "accessory factors" -- in addition to proteins, carbohydrates, fats etc. -- that are necessary for the functions of the human body. Hopkins and Eijkman were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1929 for their discoveries.

In 1910, the first vitamin complex was isolated by Japanese scientist Umetaro Suzuki, who succeeded in extracting a water-soluble complex of micronutrients from rice bran and named it aberic acid (later Orizanin). He published this discovery in a Japanese scientific journal. When the article was translated into German, the translation failed to state that it was a newly discovered nutrient, a claim made in the original Japanese article, and hence his discovery failed to gain publicity. In 1912 Polish biochemist Casimir Funk isolated the same complex of micronutrients and proposed the complex be named "vitamine" (from "vital amine"). It was later to be known as vitamin B3 (niacin), though he thought that it would be thiamine (vitamin B1) and described it as "anti-beri-beri-factor". Funk proposed the hypothesis that other diseases, such as rickets, pellagra, coeliac disease, and scurvy could also be cured by vitamins. Max Nierenstein a friend and reader of Biochemistry at Bristol University reportedly suggested a "vitamine" name (from "vital amine").

The name soon became synonymous with Hopkins' "accessory factors", and, by the time it was shown that not all vitamins are amines, the word was already ubiquitous. In 1920, Jack Cecil Drummond proposed that the final "e" be dropped to deemphasize the "amine" reference, after researchers began to suspect that not all "vitamines" (in particular, vitamin A) have an amine component.

In 1930, Paul Karrer elucidated the correct structure for beta-carotene, the main precursor of vitamin A, and identified other carotenoids. Karrer and Norman Haworth confirmed Albert Szent-Gyцrgyi's discovery ofascorbic acid and made significant contributions to the chemistry of flavins, which led to the identification of lactoflavin. For their investigations on carotenoids, flavins and vitamins A and B2, they both received theNobel Prize in Chemistry in 1937. In 1931, Albert Szent-Gyцrgyi and a fellow researcher Joseph Svirbely suspected that "hexuronic acid" was actually vitamin C, and gave a sample to Charles Glen King, who proved its anti-scorbutic activity in his long-established guinea pig scorbutic assay. In 1937, Szent-Gyцrgyi was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery. In 1943, Edward Adelbert Doisy and Henrik Dam were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of vitamin K and its chemical structure. In 1967, George Wald was awarded the Nobel Prize (along with Ragnar Granit and Haldan Keffer Hartline) for his discovery that vitamin A could participate directly in a physiological process.

9. Etymology

The term vitamin was derived from "vitamine", a compound word coined in 1912 by the Polish biochemist Kazimierz Funk when working at the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine. The name is from vital andamine, meaning amine of life, because it was suggested in 1912 that the organic micronutrient food factors that prevent beriberi and perhaps other similar dietary-deficiency diseases might be chemical amines. This was true of thiamine, but after it was found that other such micronutrients were not amines the word was shortened to vitamin in English

10. Society and culture

Once discovered, vitamins were actively promoted in articles and advertisements in McCall's, Good Housekeeping, and other media. World War II researchers focused on the need to ensure adequate nutrition, especially in processed foods. Robert W. Yoder is credited with first using the term vitamania, in 1942, to describe the appeal of relying on nutritional supplements rather than on obtaining vitamins from a varied diet of foods.

11. Governmental regulation

Most countries place dietary supplements in a special category under the general umbrella of foods, not drugs. As a result, the manufacturer, and not the government, has the responsibility of ensuring that its dietary supplement products are safe before they are marketed. Regulation of supplements varies widely by country. In the United States, a dietary supplement is defined under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. There is no FDA approval process for dietary supplements, and no requirement that manufacturers prove the safety or efficacy of supplements introduced before 1994. The Food and Drug Administration must rely on its Adverse Event Reporting System to monitor adverse events that occur with supplements. In 2007, the US Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 21, part III took effect, regulating GMP practices in the manufacturing, packaging, labeling, or holding operations for dietary supplements. Even though product registration is not required, these regulations mandate production and quality control standards (including testing for identity, purity and adulterations) for dietary supplements. In the European Union, the Food Supplements Directive requires that only those supplements that have been proven safe can be sold without a prescription. For most vitamins, pharmacopoeial standards have been established. In the United States, the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) sets standards for the most commonly used vitamins and preparations thereof. Likewise, monographs of the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph.Eur.) regulate aspects of identity and purity for vitamins on the European market.

12. Naming

The reason that the set of vitamins skips directly from E to K is that the vitamins corresponding to letters F-J were either reclassified over time, discarded as false leads, or renamed because of their relationship to vitamin B, which became a complex of vitamins.

The German-speaking scientists who isolated and described vitamin K (in addition to naming it as such) did so because the vitamin is intimately involved in the coagulation of blood following wounding (from the Germanword Koagulation). At the time, most (but not all) of the letters from F through to J were already designated, so the use of the letter K was considered quite reasonable. The table nomenclature of reclassified vitamins lists chemicals that had previously been classified as vitamins, as well as the earlier names of vitamins that later became part of the B-complex.

There are other missing B vitamins which were reclassified or determined not to be vitamins. For example, B9is folic acid and five of the folates are in the range B11 through B16, forms of other vitamins already discovered, not required as a nutrient by the entire population (like B10, PABA for internal use), biologically inactive, toxic, or with unclassifiable effects in humans, or not generally recognised as vitamins by science, such as the highest-numbered, which some naturopath practitioners call B21 and B22. There are also nine lettered B Complex vitamins (e.g. Bm). There are other D vitamins now recognised as other substances, which some sources of the same type number up to D7. The controversial cancer treatment Laetrile was at one point numbered as Vitamin B17. There appears to be no consensus on any vitamins Q, R, T, V, W, X, Y or Z, nor are there substances officially designated as Vitamins N or I, although the latter may have been another form of one of the other vitamins or a known and named nutrient of another type.

13. Hormone

Different types of hormones are secreted in the body, with different biological roles and functions.

1.A hormone (from Greek ?смЮ, "impetus") is any member of a class of signaling molecules produced by glands in multicellular organisms that are transported by the circulatory system to target distant organs to regulate physiology and behaviour. Hormones have diverse chemical structures, mainly of 3 classes: eicosanoids, steroids, and amino acidderivatives (amines, peptides, and proteins). The glands that secrete hormones comprise the endocrine signaling system. The term hormone is sometimes extended to include chemicals produced by cells that affect the same cell (autocrine or intracrine signalling) or nearby cells (paracrine signalling). vitamin hormone biochemical secretion

Hormones are used to communicate between organs and tissues to regulate physiological and behavioral activities, such as digestion, metabolism, respiration, tissue function, sensory perception, sleep, excretion, lactation, stress, growth and development, movement, reproduction, and mood. Hormones affect distant cells by binding to specificreceptor proteins in the target cell resulting in a change in cell function. When a hormone binds to the receptor, it results in the activation of a signal transduction pathway. This may lead to cell type-specific responses that include rapid non-genomic effects or slower genomic responses where the hormones acting through their receptors activate genetranscription resulting in increased expression of target proteins. Amino acid-based hormones (amines and peptide or protein hormones) are water-soluble and act on the surface of target cells via second messengers; steroid hormones, being lipid-soluble, move through the plasma membranes of target cells (both cytoplasmic and nuclear) to act within their nuclei. Hormone synthesis may occur in specific tissues of endocrine glands or in other specialized cells. Hormone synthesis occurs in response to specific biochemical signals induced by a wide range of regulatory systems. For instance, ionized calcium concentration affects PTH synthesis, whereas glucose concentration affects insulin synthesis. Regulation of hormone synthesis of gonadal, adrenal, and thyroid hormones is often dependent on complex sets of direct influence and feedback interactions involving thehypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA), -gonadal (HPG), and -thyroid (HPT) axes.

Upon secretion, certain hormones, including protein hormones and catecholamines, are water-soluble and are thus readily transported through the circulatory system. Other hormones, including steroid and thyroid hormones, are lipid-soluble; to allow for their widespread distribution, these hormones must bond to carrier plasma glycoproteins (e.g., thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG)) to form ligand-protein complexes. Some hormones are completely active when released into the bloodstream (as is the case for insulin and growth hormones), while others are prohormones that must be activated in specific cells through a series of activation steps that are commonly highly regulated. The endocrine system secretes hormones directly into the bloodstream typically into fenestrated capillaries, whereas the exocrine system secretes its hormones indirectly using ducts. Hormones with paracrine function diffuse through the interstitial spaces to nearby target tissue.

14. Overview

Hormonal signaling involves the following steps:

Biosynthesis of a particular hormone in a particular tissue

Storage and secretion of the hormone

Transport of the hormone to the target cell(s)

Recognition of the hormone by an associated cell membrane or intracellular receptor protein

Relay and amplification of the received hormonal signal via a signal transduction process: This then leads to a cellular response. The reaction of the target cells may then be recognized by the original hormone-producing cells, leading to a down-regulation in hormone production. This is an example of a homeostatic negative feedback loop.

Breakdown of the hormone.

Hormone cells are typically of a specialized cell type, residing within a particular endocrine gland, such as the thyroid gland, ovaries, and testes. Hormones exit their cell of origin via exocytosis or another means ofmembrane transport. The hierarchical model is an oversimplification of the hormonal signaling process. Cellular recipients of a particular hormonal signal may be one of several cell types that reside within a number of different tissues, as is the case for insulin, which triggers a diverse range of systemic physiological effects. Different tissue types may also respond differently to the same hormonal signal.

15. Regulation

The rate of hormone biosynthesis and secretion is often regulated by a homeostatic negative feedback control mechanism. Such a mechanism depends on factors that influence the metabolism and excretion of hormones. Thus, higher hormone concentration alone cannot trigger the negative feedback mechanism. Negative feedback must be triggered by overproduction of an "effect" of the hormone.

Hormone secretion can be stimulated and inhibited by:

Other hormones (stimulating- or releasing -hormones)

Plasma concentrations of ions or nutrients, as well as binding globulins

Neurons and mental activity

Environmental changes, e.g., of light or temperature

One special group of hormones is the tropic hormones that stimulate the hormone production of other endocrine glands. For example, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) causes growth and increased activity of another endocrine gland, the thyroid, which increases output of thyroid hormones.

To release active hormones quickly into the circulation, hormone biosynthetic cells may produce and store biologically inactive hormones in the form of pre- or prohormones. These can then be quickly converted into their active hormone form in response to a particular stimulus.

16. Receptors

The left diagram shows a steroid (lipid) hormone entering a cell and binding to a receptor protein in the nucleus, causing mRNA synthesis which is the first step of protein synthesis. The right side shows protein hormones binding with receptors which begins a transduction pathway. The transduction pathway ends with transcription factors being activated in the nucleus, and protein synthesis beginning. In both diagrams, a is the hormone, b is the cell membrane, c is the cytoplasm, and d is the nucleus.

Most hormones initiate a cellular response by initially binding to either cell membrane associated or intracellular receptors. A cell may have several different receptor types that recognize the same hormone but activate different signal transduction pathways, or a cell may have several different receptors that recognize different hormones and activate the same biochemical pathway.

Receptors for most peptide as well as many eicosanoid hormones are embedded in the plasma membrane at the surface of the cell and the majority of these receptors belong to the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) class of seven alpha helix transmembrane proteins. The interaction of hormone and receptor typically triggers a cascade of secondary effects within the cytoplasm of the cell, often involving phosphorylation or dephosphorylation of various other cytoplasmic proteins, changes in ion channel permeability, or increased concentrations of intracellular molecules that may act as secondary messengers (e.g., cyclic AMP). Some protein hormones also interact with intracellular receptors located in the cytoplasm or nucleus by an intracrine mechanism.

For steroid or thyroid hormones, their receptors are located inside the cell within the cytoplasm of the target cell. These receptors belong to thenuclear receptor family of ligand-activated transcription factors. To bind their receptors, these hormones must first cross the cell membrane. They can do so because they are lipid-soluble. The combined hormone-receptor complex then moves across the nuclear membrane into the nucleus of the cell, where it binds to specific DNA sequences, regulating the expression of certain genes, and thereby increasing the levels of the proteins encoded by these genes. However, it has been shown that not all steroid receptors are located inside the cell. Some are associated with the plasma membrane.

17. Effects

A variety of exogenous chemical compounds, both natural and synthetic, have hormone-like effects on both humans and wildlife. Their interference with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body can change the homeostasis, reproduction, development, and/or behavior, similar to endogenously produced hormones.

Hormones have the following effects on the body:

stimulation or inhibition of growth

wake-sleep cycle and other circadian rhythms

mood swings

induction or suppression of apoptosis (programmed cell death)

activation or inhibition of the immune system

regulation of metabolism

preparation of the body for mating, fighting, fleeing, and other activity

preparation of the body for a new phase of life, such as puberty, parenting, and menopause

control of the reproductive cycle

hunger cravings

sexual arousal

A hormone may also regulate the production and release of other hormones. Hormone signals control the internal environment of the body through homeostasis.

18. Chemical classes

As hormones are defined functionally, not structurally, they may have diverse chemical structures. Hormones occur in multicellular organisms (plants, animals, fungi, brown algae and red algae). These compounds occur also in unicellular organisms, and may act as signaling molecules, but there is no consensus if, in this case, they can be called hormones.

18.1 Animal

Vertebrate hormones fall into four main chemical classes:

Amino acid derived - Examples include melatonin and thyroxine.

Peptides, polypeptides and proteins. - Small peptide hormones include TRH and vasopressin. Peptides composed of scores or hundreds of amino acids are referred to as proteins. Examples of protein hormones include insulin and growth hormone. More complex protein hormones bear carbohydrate side-chains and are called glycoprotein hormones. Luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormone are examples of glycoprotein hormones.

Eicosanoids - hormones derive from lipids such as arachidonic acid, lipoxins and prostaglandins.

Steroid - Examples of steroid hormones include the sex hormones estradiol and testosterone as well as the stress hormone cortisol.

Compared with vertebrate, insects and crustaceans possess a number of structurally unusual hormones such as the juvenile hormone, a sesquiterpenoid.

19. Therapeutic use

Many hormones and their analogues are used as medication. The most commonly prescribed hormones are estrogens and progestogens (as methods of hormonal contraception and as HRT), thyroxine (aslevothyroxine, for hypothyroidism) and steroids (for autoimmune diseases and several respiratory disorders). Insulin is used by many diabetics. Local preparations for use in otolaryngology often containpharmacologic equivalents of adrenaline, while steroid and vitamin D creams are used extensively in dermatological practice.

A "pharmacologic dose" or "supraphysiological dose" of a hormone is a medical usage referring to an amount of a hormone far greater than naturally occurs in a healthy body. The effects of pharmacologic doses of hormones may be different from responses to naturally occurring amounts and may be therapeutically useful, though not without potentially adverse side effects. An example is the ability of pharmacologic doses ofglucocorticoids to suppress inflammation.

19.1 Hormone-behavior interactions

At the neurological level, behavior can be inferred based on: hormone concentrations; hormone-release patterns; the numbers and locations of hormone receptors; and the efficiency of hormone receptors for those involved in gene transcription. Not only do hormones influence behavior, but also behavior and the environment influence hormones. Thus, a feedback loop is formed. For example, behavior can affect hormones, which in turn can affect behavior, which in turn can affect hormones, and so on.

Three broad stages of reasoning may be used when determining hormone-behavior interactions:

The frequency of occurrence of a hormonally dependent behavior should correspond to that of its hormonal source

A hormonally dependent behavior is not expected if the hormonal source (or its types of action) is non-existent

The reintroduction of a missing behaviorally dependent hormonal source (or its types of action) is expected to bring back the absent behavior

Comparison with neurotransmitters

Hormonal signals can travel virtually anywhere in the circulatory system, whereas neural signals are restricted to pre-existing nerve tracts

Assuming the travel distance is equivalent, neural signals can be transmitted much more quickly (in the range of milliseconds) than can hormonal signals (in the range of seconds, minutes, or hours). Neural signals can be sent at speeds up to 100 meters per second.

Neural signalling is an all-or-nothing (digital) action, whereas hormonal signalling is an action that can be continuously variable as dependent upon hormone concentration

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