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Microsc Res Tech. 1997 Mar 15;36(6):546-57.

Vascularization of the adrenal cortex: its possible involvement in the regulation of steroid hormone release.

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School of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University Sydney, NSW, Australia.


This review examines the morphology of the adrenal gland with particular reference to the adrenal vasculature. It examines the possibility that variability in adrenal gland responsiveness may be attributable to neural or hormonal modulation of adrenal blood flow. Changes in the rate of blood flow through the adrenal cortex would be expected to play an important role in the regulation of steroid hormone release. It would affect both the delivery of the major stimulant (ACTH) and the removal of the end product from the steroidogenic cells (the glucocorticoids). In the past, interest in this area has concentrated on the regulation of arterial blood flow, rather than the regulation of venous drainage. The current review examines the concept of vascular damming, and attempts to link the morphological features of the gland with experimental data associated with glucocorticoid release. It is postulated that regulation of venous drainage, via the vascular dam, plays an important role in the storage of the secretory product during the animals' inactive phase, and in the initial rapid rise in plasma levels of the glucocorticoids seen in response to stress or injection of ACTH.

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