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Role of the Adrenal Glands

Human Biology (Year 12) - Maintaining Glucose Balance

Ben Whitten

How do the adrenal glands influence blood glucose levels?

The adrenal glands are located above the kidney, and there are two main parts. These include:

  • The adrenal cortex, which secretes a group of hormones termed glucocorticoids (cortisol)

  • The adrenal medulla, which secretes adrenaline and noradrenaline

Both of these have a role in raising blood glucose levels. The adrenal glands are normally stimulated by the sympathetic nervous system, meaning it is a stress-related response.

  • Glucocorticoids stimulate the conversion of glycogen to glucose (glycogenolysis), as well as stimulating the breakdown of protein in muscle and then converting amino acids to glucose in the liver (gluconeogenesis)

  • Adrenaline and noradrenaline stimulate the production of lactic acid from glycogen in muscle cells and then convert lactic acids into glucose in the liver

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