The adrenal cortex comprises three main zones, or layers that are regulated by distinct hormones as noted below. This anatomic zonation can be appreciated at the microscopic level, where each zone can be recognized and distinguished from one another based on structural and anatomic characteristics.
The secretion of aldosterone is also stimulated by ACTH.
The expression of neuron-specific proteins in the zona glomerulosa cells of human adrenocortical tissues has been predicted and reported by several authors and it was suggested that the expression of proteins like the neuronal cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) in the cells of the zona glomerulosa reflects the regenerative feature of these cells, which would lose NCAM immunoreactivity after moving to the zona fasciculata. However, together with other data on neuroendocrine properties of zona glomerulosa cells, NCAM expression may reflect a neuroendocrine differentiation of these cells.
The precursor of steroids synthesized in the adrenal cortex is cholesterol that is stored in vesicles. Cholesterol can be synthesized de novo in the adrenal cortex. Yet, the major source of cholesterol appears to be cholesterol that is taken up with circulating lipoproteins.
The steps up to this point occur in many steroid-producing tissues. Subsequent steps to generate aldosterone and cortisol, however, primarily occur in the adrenal cortex:
^Whitehead, Saffron A.; Nussey, Stephen (2001). Endocrinology: an integrated approach. Oxford: BIOS. p. 122. ISBN978-1-85996-252-7.
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