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Cortisol, a steroid hormone, is the main glucocorticoid secreted by the zona fasciculata of the adrenal cortex [1]. It's primary function is to increase blood sugar levels. This rise is achieved through various processes including gluconeogenesis and metabolism of several macromolecules including fat, protein and carbohydrate.

In a response to stress, the glucocorticoid is released from thezona fasciculata domain of the adrenal cortex. This release is ultimately controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain, which secretes corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). This hormone then triggers the secretion of another hormone, ACTH, from the pituitary gland which is carried, via the bloodstream, to the adrenal cortex.


  1. Silverthorn, Dee Unglaub., Johnson, Bruce R., Ober, William C., Garrison, Claire W., Silverthorn, Andrew C.(2009)Human Physiology: An integrated approach, 5th edition, New York: Pearson International. p759

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