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Antagonistic Hormones

Maintaining homeostasis often requires conditions to be limited to a narrow range. When

conditions exceed the upper limit of homeostasis, a specific action, usually the production of a
hormone, is triggered. When conditions return to normal, hormone production is discontinued. If
conditions exceed the lower limit of homeostasis, a different action, usually the production of a
second hormone, is triggered. Hormones that act to return body conditions to within acceptable
limits from opposite extremes are called antagonistic hormones.

The regulation of blood glucose concentration (through negative feedback)

illustrates how the endocrine system maintains homeostasis by the action of
antagonistic hormones. Bundles of cells in the pancreas called pancreatic
islets contain two kinds of cells, alpha cells and beta cells. These cells control
blood glucose concentration by producing the antagonistic hormones insulin
and glucagon:

 Beta cells secrete insulin. When the concentration of blood glucose

rises (after eating, for example), beta cells secrete insulin into the
blood. Insulin stimulates the liver and most other body cells to absorb
glucose. Liver and muscle cells convert the glucose to glycogen (for
short‐term storage), and adipose cells convert the glucose to fat. In
response, glucose concentration decreases in the blood, and insulin
secretion discontinues (through negative feedback from declining
levels of glucose).
 Alpha cells secrete glucagon. When the concentration of blood glucose
drops (during exercise, for example), alpha cells secrete glucagon into
the blood. Glucagon stimulates the liver to release glucose. The
glucose in the liver originates from the breakdown of glycogen and the
conversion of amino acids and fatty acids into glucose. When blood
glucose levels return to normal, glucagon secretion discontinues
(negative feedback).

Another example of antagonistic hormones occurs in the maintenance of

Ca 2+ concentration in the blood. Parathyroid hormone (PTH) from the
parathyroid glands increases Ca 2+ in the blood by increasing Ca 2+ absorption
in the intestines and reabsorption in the kidneys and stimulating
Ca 2+ release from bones. Calcitonin (CT) produces the opposite effect by
inhibiting the breakdown of bone matrix and decreasing the release of
calcium into the blood.
The role of hormones in homeostasis is essential to overall health. Getting regular exercise and eating
right can help keep all natural processes within the body intact. Without healthy hormone regulation of
various processes, the body is more vulnerable to disease.

 Overview
Homeostasis comes from the Greek homeo, which means unchanging and stasis, which means standing1.
A very typical homeostasis occurs in humans as the body regulates its temperature in order to maintain
approximately a 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit internal temperature, according to Biology Online1. Hormones
regulate various homeostasis, such as glucose homeostasis and calcium homeostasis. Homeostasis is
maintained by the endocrine system which secretes hormones—steroids, peptides and amines. Knowing
the role of hormones in homeostasis may help you understand the natural processes occurring within your
body, as well as help you make better decisions about diet, exercise and health.

 Glucose Homeostasis
Gut hormones regulate glucose homeostasis. After you eat, multiple gut peptides help with the uptake and
storage of energy from food, according to Daniel J. Drucker in his article, The Role of Gut Hormones in
Glucose Homeostasis, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation2. Neural circuits activated by gut
hormones communicate with organs, such as the liver and muscle tissue, to manage energy intake and
absorption. Incretin hormones enhance meal-stimulated insulin secretion and encourage liver and muscle
tissue glucose uptake while suppressing glucagon secretion at the same time. Whenever blood glucose
levels fall, glucagon increases, and it decreases when glucose levels go back up again. Diabetes results
when this delicate process goes haywire and inadequate levels of insulin are produced, according to Mike
Farabee, Ph.D., author of the Online Biology Book3.
Losing weight, following a health diet and exercising regularly can help keep diabetes at bay. Constantly
relying on your body to bounce back after eating too much sugar or after prolonged periods of intense
daily stress isn’t a long-term solution. It’s important to be proactive and diligent when it comes to your
own healthcare. According the American Diabetes Association, simple factors such as age and carrying
extra weight can put you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes4. Take the Diabetes Risk Test via the
American Diabetes Association website4.

 Calcium Homeostasis
In order for the body to maintain adequate calcium levels, certain hormones must work to regulate
calcium homeostasis. Many physiologic process depend on calcium, and maintaining its balance in the
body is crucial, according to Colorado State University Department of Biomedical Sciences
. Find calcium in cells, blood and bones within the body; the small intestine, kidneys and bones help
supply and remove calcium to and from blood when needed. There are three hormones that manage
fluctuation of calcium in or out of blood, as well as extracellular fluid, says Colorado State University
Department of Biomedical Sciences 5. The parathyroid hormone works to increase concentrations of
calcium in the blood, and calcitonin is that hormone that works to reduce blood calcium levels when
needed. Hormones work together and with nutrients such as vitamin D to regulate calcium levels.

Lack of calcium is a common concern for older women and men. The National Osteoporosis
Foundation5estimates that as of 2011 ten million Americans have osteoporosis, and thirty-four million
have low bone mass. It’s important to understand guidelines for calcium and vitamin D supplementation,
as well as the importance of daily exercise, to stave off the crippling effects of osteoporosis. When it
comes to calcium, the role of hormones in homeostasis changes significantly after age 50.