A hormone (from Greek ὁρμή - "impetus") is a chemical released by a cell in one part of the body, that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. It is essentially a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one cell to another. All multicellular organisms produce hormones; plant hormones are also called phytohormones. Hormones in animals are often transported in the blood. Cells respond to a hormone when they express a specific receptor for that hormone. The hormone binds to the receptor protein, resulting in the activation of a signal transduction mechanism that ultimately leads to cell type-specific responses.
Endocrine hormone molecules are secreted (released) directly into the bloodstream, while exocrine hormones (or ectohormones) are secreted directly into a duct, and from the duct they either flow into the bloodstream or they flow from cell to cell by diffusion in a process known as paracrine signalling.
 Hormones as a signal
Hormonal signaling involves the following:
1. Biosynthesis of a particular hormone in a particular tissue
2. Storage and secretion of the hormone
3. Transport of the hormone to the target cell(s)
4. Recognition of the hormone by an associated cell membrane or intracellular receptor protein.
5. Relay and amplification of the received hormonal signal via a signal transduction process: This then leads to a cellular response. The reaction of the target cells may then be recognized by the original hormone-producing cells, leading to a down-regulation in hormone production. This is an example of a homeostatic negative feedback loop.
6. Degradation of the hormone.
Hormone cells are typically of a specialized cell type, residing within a particular endocrine gland, such as thyroid gland, ovaries, and testes. Hormones exit their cell of origin via exocytosis or another means of... [continues]
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