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Adrenal medulla

Adrenal medulla
Medulla labeled at bottom right.
Gray's subject #277 1280
Artery superior suprarenal artery, middle suprarenal artery, Inferior suprarenal artery
Vein suprarenal veins
Nerve celiac plexus, renal plexus
Lymph lumbar glands
Precursor Neural crest

  The adrenal medulla is part of the adrenal gland. It is located at the center of the gland, being surrounded by the adrenal cortex.



Composed mainly of hormone-producing chromaffin cells, the adrenal medulla is the principal site of the conversion of the amino acid tyrosine into the catecholamines adrenaline (epinephrine), noradrenaline (norepinephrine), and dopamine.

In response to stressors such as exercise or imminent danger, medullary cells release catecholamines into the blood in an 85:15 ratio of adrenaline to noradrenaline.[1]

Notable effects of adrenaline and noradrenaline include increased heart rate and blood pressure, blood vessel constriction, bronchiole dilation, and increased metabolism, all of which are characteristic of the fight-or-flight response. Release of catecholamines is stimulated by nerve impulses, and receptors for catecholamines are widely distributed throughout the body.


Medullary cells are derived from the embryonic neural crest and, as such, are simply modified neurons.

In particular, they are modified postganglionic cells of the sympathetic nervous system that have lost their axons and dendrites, receiving innervation from corresponding preganglionic fibers.

Moreover, as the synapses between pre- and postganglionic fibers are called ganglia, the adrenal medulla is actually a ganglion of the sympathetic nervous system.


Neoplasms including:

  • Pheochromocytoma (most common) a catecholamine-secreting tumor of the adrenal medulla
  • Neuroblastoma a neuroendocrine tumor of any neural crest tissue of the sympathetic nervous system
  • Ganglioneuroma a tumor in the nerve cells of the peripheral nervous system

See also


  1. ^ Anatomy at UMich intro_autonomics_2_module/autonomics_05
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Adrenal_medulla". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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