Histology - Adrenal (Suprarenal) Glands Flashcards Preview

BMP - Not SGU > Histology - Adrenal (Suprarenal) Glands > Flashcards

Flashcards in Histology - Adrenal (Suprarenal) Glands Deck (12):

The adrenal cortex (outer layers) secretes 3 groups of:

steroid hormones.

  1. Mineralocorticoids
  2. Glucocorticoids
  3. Androgens


The adrenal medulla (central portion of gland) secretes

catecholamines – norepinephrine and epinephrine


There are three histologically distinct layers of the suprarenal cortex, each synthesizing a characteristic “family” of steroid hormones.

List them.

A image thumb

Z glomerulosa cells synthesize

Synthesize mineralocorticoids, principally aldosterone 



under fibrous capsule (C) in rounded clusters separated by fibrous trabeculae from capsule

A image thumb

Zona fasciculata cells synthesize / secrete

Synthesize / secrete glucocorticoids, primarily cortisol 


arranged in parallel cords or plates (typically 2 cells thick) separated by capillaries parallel to the plates

A image thumb

Z reticularis cells - smallest of the secretory cells of the adrenal cortex secrete:

Synthesize and secrete adrenal androgens (androstenedione and DHEA) – these are weak androgens compared to testosterone, but the only androgen source in females



Arranged in irregular branching network cellular cords surrounded by blood vessels and connective tissue

A image thumb

Addison’s disease –

Destruction of the adrenal cortex (autoimmune, tuberculosis)

All adrenal steroids are affected – mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids and androgens –mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids are necessary for life


Cushing’s disease

ACTH - secreting adenoma of the anterior pituitary

High ACTH → drives cortisol and androgen synthesis/release


Cushing’s syndrome –

Functional tumor of the adrenal cortex OR administration of glucocorticoids in pharmacological doses

(High cortisol → negative feedback inhibition of pituitary ACTH release)


Adrenal cortical adenoma

– solitary circumscribed mass of cortical cells

-usually a mixture of cortical cell types

– can be one cell type: Conn’s Syndrome = adenoma of glomerulosa cells → hyperaldosteronemia


There are two types of adrenal medullary cells –

  • most synthesize / secrete epinephrine (E) 
  • a smaller population secretes norepinephrine (NE).

These catecholamines are packaged and stored in secretory granules.


Pheochromocytomas are

Tumors of suprarenal medullary cells.


They produce symptoms related to excess catecholamines (“fight or flight”) including tachycardia / palpitations, elevated blood pressure (sometimes dangerously elevated), chest pain, sweating, constipation, fine tremor, and anxiety.