The 4 Main Types of Hormones in the Human Body and Their Functions

Types of Hormones in the Human Body

This comprehensive guide to the 4 main types of hormones in the human body and their functions will show you where the hormones are produced, what they impact, and how they benefit the body.

Looking at the role of different hormones in the human body , we see how some impact brain functions, others support bone and muscle growth, some strengthen immunity, and others even promote a healthy libido. From digestion to breathing, blood flow to memory, the following 4 main types of hormones are always at work:

  1. Amino Acids
  2. Peptides
  3. Steroids
  4. Eicosanoids

As we explore the different types of hormones in the human body and their functions , you will begin to see a connection between many of these vital chemicals. That is why maintaining adequate supplies of these substances are essential throughout one’s lifetime.

Role of Amino Acid Hormones in the Body

Our list of different hormones in human body begins with amino acid hormones. They impact most of the tissues in the body. Amino acid hormones are water-soluble, but insoluble in lipids (fats).

Here are the various amino acid types of hormones in a human body :

Producing Gland Hormone Target Primary Functions
Adrenal GlandEpinephrine (Adrenaline)Most tissuesBlood pressure regulation, fight or flight response, increases heart rate, muscle contraction, lipolysis, glycogenolysis in the liver, gastrointestinal movement, respiratory
Pineal GlandMelatoninMelatonin receptors, can cross cell membranes and blood-brain barrierSleep-wake cycles, circadian rhythm, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, interacts with immune system
Thyroid GlandThyroxineMost tissuesMetabolic rate regulation
Thyroid Gland and peripheral tissueTriiodothyronineMost tissuesMetabolic increase, heart rate, ventilation rate, cardiac output

Function of Peptide Hormones

The following types of hormones in the human body are called peptides. They are protein molecules consisting of amino acids chemically linked together and are found throughout the body’s tissues and cells. Peptides are the most abundant type of hormones.

Here are the peptide types of hormones in the human body and their functions :

Producing Gland Hormone Target Primary Functions
Adipose TissueAdiponectinAdiponectin receptorsModulates lipid and glucose metabolism, fatty acid oxidation
LeptinHypothalamusDecrease appetite, regulate energy, support metabolic function
Anterior Pituitary Gland

Also the Skin and Hypothalamus
Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH – corticotropin)Adrenal glandsCorticosteroid synthesis, cortisol production in adrenal glands
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)Testes, ovariesMales: stimulates testosterone production and spermatogenesis, Females: promotes development of ova and follicles before ovulation
Growth Hormone (somatotropin)Bones, brain, cartilage, cells, fat, hair, heart, liver, muscle, skinStimulates insulin growth factor 1 release, cellular reproduction, brain functions, immunity, metabolism, libido, and more
LipotropinFat reservesStimulates lipolysis, melanin, and steroidogenesis
Luteinizing HormoneTestes, ovariesMales: stimulates testosterone release, Females: promotes ovulation, estrogen, and progesterone production
Melanocyte Stimulating HormoneMelanocytes (pigment cells)Produces color pigmentation (melanin) in the hair, skin, & eyes
ProlactinBrain, breastsSexual behavior and gratification, milk production
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH-thyrotropin)Thyroid glandStimulates the secretion of thyroxine and triiodothyronine
BonesOsteocalcin (BGLAP)Brain, muscle, pancreas, testesMemory formation, energy, muscle function, testosterone synthesis
Cerebral CortexCortistatinCortex, amygdala, hippocampusReduces locomotor activity, depresses neuronal activity, induces slow-wave sleep

Also Jejunum Mucosa
Cholecystokinin (CCK)Pancreas, liver, gallbladderDecreases appetite, releases digestion enzymes and bile
Gastric Inhibitory Polypeptide (GIP)PancreasInduces secretion of insulin
SecretinLiver and stomachInhibits stomach secretions, increases bile production
Epithelium (goblet cells in colon)GuanylinGuanylin receptorRegulates water and electrolyte transport in renal and intestinal epithelia
Gastrointestinal Tract and Central Nervous SystemGalaninHypothalamus, brainstem, cortex, pancreas, stomach, colon, intestinesInhibits insulin, somatostatin, and dopamine, helps regulate growth hormone release, increases prolactin, contracts gastrointestinal smooth muscle
HeartAtrial-Natriuretic Peptide (atriopeptin)Blood cellular receptorsVasodilation
Brain Natriuretic PeptideAtrial receptorsDilator

Also pancreas and gastrointestinal system
Corticotropin-Releasing HormoneAnterior pituitary glandInfluences cortisol and ACTH release
Gonadotropin-Releasing HormoneAnterior pituitary glandStimulates LH and FSH secretion
Growth Hormone-Releasing HormoneAnterior pituitary glandStimulates growth hormone secretion
OrexinNeurotransmittersIncreases appetite and energy expenditure, wakefulness
Prolactin Releasing HormoneAnterior pituitary glandProlactin secretion
SomatostatinAnterior pituitary gland, gastrointestinal system, pancreasInhibitor of growth hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, insulin, cholecystokinin, glucagon release
Thyrotropin-Releasing HormoneAnterior pituitary glandRegulates activity of thyroid gland and thyroid stimulating hormone
IleumGlucagon-Like Peptide-1Pancreatic beta cellsIncreases synthesis and release of insulin

Also Liver, Striated Muscle
EnkephalinOpioid receptorsRegulates pain
ErythropoietinBone marrowStimulates red blood cell production
ReninEnzymatic activityBlood pressure regulation
ThrombopoietinMegakaryocytesProduces blood platelets
LiverAngiotensinogen and AngiotensinAdrenal cortex, most tissuesAldosterone release, salt retention, vasoconstriction, thirst
HepcidinGut enterocytes and plasma membrane of macrophagesInhibits cellular iron export and absorption
Insulin Growth FactorSkeletal, muscle, cartilage, cellsMediates growth hormone effects and cell reproduction
Ovaries, Testes, FetusInhibinOvaries, testesInhibits FSH secretion
PancreasAmylinKidney, boneReduces food intake, inhibits digestive secretions, bone metabolism
GlucagonLiverIncreases blood glucose levels, liver glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis
InsulinFat tissue, muscleRegulates glucose levels
Pancreatic PolypeptidePancreas, brainRegulates gastrointestinal and pancreatic secretions
Vasoactive Intestinal PeptideHeart, stomach, gallbladder, tracheaGlycogenolysis, heart contractility, lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, vasodilation
ParathyroidParathyroid HormoneBone cells, kidneyIncreases blood calcium and reabsorption in kidney, activates vitamin D
PlacentaHuman Chorionic GonadotropinOvary, testesSecretion of progesterone by corpus luteum at onset of pregnancy, repels immune cells to protect fetus, helps increase testosterone production
Human Placental LactogenOnly present during pregnancyIncreases carbohydrate intolerance, insulin resistance, insulin and IGF-1 production to facilitate energy supply of the fetus
Posterior Pituitary GlandAntidiuretic Hormone (vasopressin, arginine vasopressin, ADH)Blood vessels, kidneys, anterior pituitaryACTH secretion, blood pressure maintenance thru kidney water retention and blood vessel constriction
OxytocinBreast milk ducts, uterusUterine constriction during labor, milk production
Renal TissueUroguanylinRenal epitheliaRegulates renal salt and water transport
Small IntestineMotilinPancreas, gallbladderGastric activity stimulator
Also Duodenum
GhrelinHypothalamusAppetite stimulation, growth hormone secretion, energy use
GastrinStomachStomach acid secretion
TestesAnti-Mullerian HormoneAnterior pituitary glandInhibits TRH and prolactin release
ThyroidCalcitoninBonesRegulation of calcium and inhibitor of bone osteoclast breakdown
Uterus, Placenta, Corpus Luteum, Mammary Glands, Prostate GlandRelaxinCervix, reproductive system organsIncrease blood flow to placenta, softens and widens cervix for childbirth, relaxes pelvic ligaments, Males: semen movement
Vascular EndotheliumEndothelinVascular smooth muscle, heartMedium-sized vessel smooth muscle contraction
MultiplePituitary Adenylate Cyclase-Activating PeptideVasoactive intestinal peptide receptorsNeurotransmitter, neuromodulator, induces hypophysis activity

Get Started

Steroid Hormones and Their Functions in the Body

The next group of different hormones present in a human body consists of steroids that come from three primary locations:

  • Ovaries
  • Testes
  • Adrenal glands
Producing Gland Hormone Target Primary Function
Adrenal Glands, GonadsAndrostenedioneBloodstream, various, testesConverts into estrone and testosterone
Adrenal Glands (outer layer), Ovaries, TestesDehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)Sulphur or albumin in the bloodstream, nuclear and cell surface receptorsPrecursor hormone for estrogen and testosterone
Testosterone Conversion by Enzyme 5 Alpha ReductaseDihydrotestosteroneMale genitals, prostate, female pubic hair growthDevelopment of male characteristics
Testes, Ovaries, Adrenal GlandsTestosteroneSexual organsSperm development, bone and muscle development, libido, brain support, hair growth
Ovaries, Testes, Testosterone via Aromatase Conversion, BrainEstradiolNumerous tissuesCoronary artery blood flow, neuroprotective, lung functions, bone structure, uterine lining, breast development, skin, and more
PlacentaEstriolEstrogen receptorsAgonist of estrogen receptors, GPER antagonist, pregnancy role unknown
Ovaries, Adipose TissueEstroneEstrogen receptorsConversion to estrone sulfate as a reservoir for future estradiol conversion
Adrenal CortexCortisolMost tissuesImmune system support, blood glucose and blood pressure regulation, anti-inflammatory, water and salt balance, stress hormone
Adrenal CortexAldosteroneKidneyMaintains blood pressure through salt and water retention
Ovaries, Testes, Adrenal Glands, PlacentaProgesteroneBreast, uterus, testes, brain, other tissuesPrepares endometrium for fertilized egg, precursor to other hormones, effects on sperm, brain functions as a neurosteroid, nerve functions, blood clotting, anti-inflammatory, more
Skin, Proximal Tubule of KidneysCalcitriol (1,25 – dihydroxy vitamin D 3)Bone cells, kidney, small intestineStimulates calcium uptake in small intestine, calcium retention and release from bone stores
LiverCalcidiol (25 – hydroxy vitamin D 3)KidneysInactive form of vitamin D 3 converts into calcitriol

When we look at the most common types of hormones in the human body and their functions , steroids are often those that require balancing in later years of adulthood.

What Are Eicosanoid Hormones and What Do They Do?

The final types of hormones in the human body belong to a group called eicosanoids that are produced from essential fatty acids.

Producing Gland Hormone Target Primary Function
EndotheliumProstacyclinBlood vessels, smooth muscle cellsBlood vessel vasodilation, inhibits platelet activation and smooth muscle cell proliferation
PlateletsThromboxanePlateletsVasoconstriction, platelet aggregation
White Blood CellsLeukotrienesBronchioles smooth muscle lining, G protein-coupled receptorsIncreases vascular permeability, immune responses, asthmatic and allergic inflammatory reactions
As Needed by Chemical ReactionsProstaglandinsInjured areas, female reproductive systemVasodilation, stimulate blood clot formation, pain, fever, inflammation for healing, induce labor, control ovulation

It is crucial that you maintain adequate levels of each of the different types of hormones in human body . For concerns about hormone levels, symptoms of deficiency, and potential treatment options, please contact Kingsberg Medical for a complimentary, confidential consultation with a hormone specialist.