Kemppainen, Robert J. Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.
- Cortex and medulla
- Comparative anatomy
- Comparative endocrinology
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A complex endocrine organ in proximity to the kidney. Adrenal gland tissue is present in all vertebrates from cyclostomes to placental mammals. The adrenal consists of two functionally distinct tissues: steroidogenic cells of mesodermal origin and neural crest–derived catecholamine-secreting cells. While “adrenal” refers to the gland's proximity to the kidney, significant variation exists among vertebrates in its anatomic location as well as the relationship of the two endocrine tissues which make up the gland. In mammals, steroidogenic cells are separated into distinct zones that together form a cortex. This cortical tissue surrounds the catecholamine-secreting cells, constituting the medulla. In most other vertebrates, this unique anatomic cortical-medullary relationship is not present. In species of amphibians and fish, adrenal cells are found intermingling with kidney tissue, and the steroidogenic cells are often termed interrenal tissue.
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