Monday, October 10, 2011


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Epinephrine is commonly known as adrenaline and norepinephrine can be known as noradrenaline. These two hormones are secreted when the body is responding to stress and it is involved in the “fight or flight” response, which will be talked about in more detail later. It consists of increased heart functions, and an increase in the body’s blood sugar levels resulting pale skin and an increasing blood supply to major muscles.

Chemical Nature

The chemical formula for epinephrine is CH1NO and the shape of the structure can be seen in Figure 1. It is derived from the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine.

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The chemical formula for norepinephrine is NC8OH11 and the shape of the structure can be found in Figure .


Both epinephrine and norepinephrine are secreted by the adrenal glands

as well as at nerve endings. The epinephrine and norepinephrine that are released from the adrenal glands generally have a longer effect than if it were released at the nerve endings.

Body Response

Epinephrine and norepinephrine are released when the body is responding to stress. Stress can be taken as exercise or emotional distress. The body undergoes a variety of processes when these two hormones are released.

- Increase the rate and force of contraction of the heart

- Constrict blood vessels

- Increase metabolic rate

- Dilate pupils

- Inhibit certain “non-essential” processes

Feedback Loop (Figure )

1) The Brain senses that there is stress and receives a signal.

) The Brain sends out a signal to the adrenal medulla (control

centre for the adrenal glands), located on the adrenal cortex, to

activated the sympathetic nerves (nerve endings).

) The adrenal medulla releases the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine to mainly

increase the rate force of contraction of the heart and to constrict blood vessels so the body can relax compared to what it was previously doing under stress.

4) Epinephrine and norepinephrine

reach the target cells and this causes the stress level within the body to decrease as a variety of processes take place at this point

5) Due to the decreased stress level, the brain no longer senses a problem and the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine is halted.

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