Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

pp 1-3

Date: Latest Version

Adrenal Glands

  • Linda C. BaumannAffiliated withSchool of Nursing, University of Wisconsin-Madison Email author 
  • , Alyssa YlinenAffiliated withAlina Health System Email author 


Endocrine gland; Kidney; Adrenal cortex; Adrenal medulla


The adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system that is comprised of various glands that are located throughout the body. These glands are responsible for synthesizing and producing hormones that communicate regulatory information to cells and organs. The adrenal glands are primarily responsible for the stress response in the human body secondary to physical or emotional stimuli. The two adrenal glands are pyramid-shaped organs located directly anterior to the kidneys and behind the peritoneum. Each adrenal gland consists of two distinct portions: an inner medulla and an outer cortex. Each portion has differing but interrelated structures and hormonal functions.


The adrenal medulla synthesizes and secretes the catecholamines epinephrine and norepinephrine. Major effects of catecholamines are increased rate and force of contraction of the heart muscle, constriction of blood vessels, dilation of bronc ...

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