Two types of hormones are always in news due to their extreme levels of importance and effectiveness in the human body – protein hormones, and steroid hormones. Steroids are naturally produced in the human body, and performs a multiple of functions that essential to stay fit and energetic. Hormones that are normally produced in the endocrine glands are called proteins or peptides, and all other hormones are considered as steroids. The mechanism of action by which the natural hormones act in the human body and the factors affecting your hormone levels arestill not clear to the researchers, but they opine that each hormone has one or more target organs on which it shows some important biological actions.
Protein hormones, or peptide hormones, are primarily built up with amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of all kinds of proteins, including the proteins that anyone eats. Peptide or protein hormones have two distinct characteristics:
- These hormones are globular in shape, i.e. they look like a ball
- These hormones are water-soluble, i.e. they dissolve in water, and easily mixes in the blood and transfers in the different parts of the body through the circulatory system
The most known, and important protein hormone in the human body is insulin. It helps to regulate the blood sugar levels in the body. Besides, glucagon, prolactin, and oxytocin are other important protein hormones in the body. Prolactin is milk producing hormone in the female body, while oxytocin has some important cognitive functioning.
Protein hormones couldn’t cross the cell membrane barrier. This is one of the fundamental difference between protein hormones, and steroid hormones. As the cell membranes are mainly made of fatty compounds, called phospholipids, and the protein hormones are only water soluble, they couldn’t cross the cell membranes to reach into the cells. Peptide hormones stimulates the receptors present on the cell membranes that in turn influences different activities inside the cells.
Steroid hormones are steroids that act as hormones. They are the class of hormones that are secreted from testes, ovaries, and adrenalin cortex. Steroid hormones are frequently used by bodybuilders, and sports persons to replenish muscular damages, increase stamina, and increase lean mass. Synthetic steroid hormones are all derived from dihydrotestosterone. These hormones are also used to reduce fat in the body without disturbing the muscle weight. They are fat-soluble and can easily cross the cell membrane. Steroid hormones help to enhance metabolism, control inflammation and water-salt balance, and enhance immunity of the body. Some examples of steroid hormones are glucocorticoids, cortisone, cyproterone acetate, and gestrinone, etc.
Difference between protein hormones, and steroid hormones
Following are the major difference between these two categories of hormones:
- Steroid hormones are lipophilic in nature, they can easily cross the cell membrane. This is not possible for protein hormones.
- Steroid hormone receptors are active in the cells, and mainly in the nucleus of a cell. Protein hormone receptors are mostly plasma membrane proteins with many transmembrane benefits.
- The half-life of a steroid hormone is much longer than a peptide hormone. Half-life of testosterone is almost 24 hours, whereas the half-life of insulin is just a few minutes.