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  • Biochemical messengers that affect body states or growth by carrying signals from one group of cells to another, usually via the bloodstream. Hormone secretion is governed by the hypothalamus, generally via feedback loops with the pituitary gland. When hormone molecules bind to the receptors on their “target” cells, they initiate a sequence of intracellular signals that may alter the behavior of the target cells or stimulate (or repress) gene expression in the nuclei. For example, in times of emergency and stress, the pituitary gland secretes adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce epinephrine, a hormone that serves to increase the heart rate and prepare the body for response. Because most hormones travel through the bloodstream to reach their destinations, their effects begin ...

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