Published On: Wed, Jan 31st, 2018

Types of Hormones in the Human Body

A thorough search of the types of hormones in the human body could yield upwards of sixty to seventy responses. Some of these chemical messengers fall into the category of major hormones, influencing important daily functions. Other, more minor hormones occur in response to certain physiological developments, such as pregnancy.

photo courtesy of Greenberg Health

Hormones also fall into different type categories. How many types of hormones do we have throughout the body? The four main classifications of hormones are:

  1. Steroid hormones
  2. Peptide hormones
  3. Amino acid hormones
  4. Eicosanoid hormones

Hormones have many different purposes, yet all function as messengers – delivering a signal to a specific receptor cell. Some hormones stimulate or inhibit release of other hormones. Other hormones cause a direct action to occur.

The charts below highlight some of the major hormones in each of the four categories listed above.

Steroid Hormones and Their Functions

Steroid hormones can pass through a cell membrane. Steroids are lipid-soluble and will bind to targeted receptor cells in cytoplasm. Once bound, steroid hormones undergo transportation to the cell nucleus where they bind with other receptors on the chromatin. Steroid hormones influence gene transcription within a cell causing expression or suppression of the gene.

As we look at how many types of hormones in the human body fall into the steroid category, we find an additional breakdown as follows:

  • Androgens
  • Estrogens
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Mineralocorticoids
  • Progestogens
  • Secosteroids

There is very little difference in the types of hormones in female bodies as opposed to males. The only exception is that of a few hormones that occur during pregnancy. Estrogen, often thought of as the female sex hormone, and testosterone, considered the male hormone, are just as important for the opposite sexes, just in a lesser amount.

Some of the different types of hormones in the human body that fall into the steroid category include:

Hormone Name Steroid Type Producer Target Function
Aldosterone Mineralocorticoid Adrenal cortex Kidney Sodium and water absorption, blood pressure maintenance
Calcitriol Secosteroids Skin, proximal tubule of kidneys Vitamin D receptors Absorption of calcium and phosphate
Cortisol Glucocorticoid Adrenal cortex Most tissues Blood pressure and blood glucose regulation, anti-inflammatory, immune functions
DHEA Androgen Kidneys, ovaries, testes Androgen receptors Precursor hormone for estrogen and testosterone
Estradiol Estrogen Ovaries, testes, aromatase conversion Granulosa cells – females, Sertoli cells – males Increases cortisol, growth hormone, SHBG; reduces bone resorption, promotes lung function, more
Progesterone Progestogen Ovaries, testes, adrenals, placenta Breast, uterus, progesterone receptors Anti-inflammatory, blood clotting, nerve functions, pregnancy support, source hormone, more
Testosterone Androgen Testes, ovaries, adrenals Sex organs, androgen receptors Male sex organ and sperm development, libido, brain functions, bone and muscle growth

Peptide Hormones and Their Functions

Peptides are the largest classification of hormones circulating in the body and they bind to receptors on cell surfaces. These types of hormones and their effects are seen throughout the body.

Some commonly known peptide types of hormones in the human body include:

Hormone Name Producer Target Function
Follicle-stimulating hormone Anterior pituitary gland Ovary, testes Egg and follicle development in females, testosterone production in males
Ghrelin Stomach Ghrelin receptors Stimulates appetite
Growth hormone-releasing hormone Hypothalamus Anterior pituitary gland Stimulates growth hormone production
Growth hormone Anterior pituitary gland GH receptors on bones, muscles, tissues, brain Muscle and bone growth, cell regeneration, brain functions, immune support, metabolism, libido, IGF-1 secretion, more
Insulin Pancreas Muscle, fat Lowers blood glucose levels
Insulin growth factor 1 Liver Cells, tissues Mediates growth hormone effects, cell reproduction
Luteinizing hormone Anterior pituitary gland Testes, ovaries Testosterone release – males, ovulation – females
Thyroid-stimulating hormone Anterior pituitary gland Thyroid gland Release of thyroid hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine


Amino Acid Hormones and Their Functions

The next types of hormones and their functions are the amino acids. These hormones  are water-soluble and bind to their specific receptors on target cell surfaces.

Some of the most common types of hormones in the human body and their functions from the amino acid group include:

Hormone Name Producer Target Function
Adrenaline/Epinephrine Adrenal gland Most tissues Fight or flight response, increases heart rate, blood pressure, vasodilation, lipolysis, more
Melatonin Pineal gland Tissues Circadian rhythm, sleep, antioxidant
Thyroxine and Triiodothyronine Thyroid gland Most tissues Regulate metabolism

Eicosanoid Hormones and Their Functions

Eicosanoids are the final types of hormones. Chart listings for these signaling hormones include:

Hormone Name Producer Target Function
Leukotrienes White blood cells G protein-coupled receptors Helps allergies, asthma attacks, and increases vascular permeability
Prostaglandins Chemical reactions Prostaglandin receptors Inflammation, blood clot formation, injury and tissue damage repair, labor induction

Here you can find information about hormonal imbalance, hormone testing and hormone therapy.

Author: Ashley Cooper


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