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Adrenal Zona Glomerulosa

Discover the fascinating role of the adrenal zona glomerulosa and unlock the secrets of this vital gland's impact on hormone production and overall health.

USMLE Guide: Adrenal Zona Glomerulosa


This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the adrenal zona glomerulosa, an important component of the adrenal gland. It will cover its anatomy, function, regulation, and associated clinical conditions.

Anatomy of Adrenal Glands

  • The adrenal glands are two small, triangular-shaped endocrine glands located on top of each kidney.
  • Each gland is composed of two main regions: the outer cortex and the inner medulla.
  • The cortex is further divided into three distinct layers: zona glomerulosa, zona fasciculata, and zona reticularis.

Adrenal Zona Glomerulosa

  • The adrenal zona glomerulosa is the outermost layer of the adrenal cortex.
  • It constitutes approximately 15% of the adrenal cortex.
  • The cells in this layer are arranged in spherical clusters or glomeruli, giving it its name.
  • The zona glomerulosa primarily synthesizes and secretes the mineralocorticoid hormone aldosterone.

Function of Aldosterone

  • Aldosterone plays a crucial role in regulating electrolyte and fluid balance in the body.
  • It acts on the distal tubules and collecting ducts of the kidneys, enhancing the reabsorption of sodium ions (Na+) and excretion of potassium ions (K+).
  • This process leads to an increase in blood volume and blood pressure.

Regulation of Aldosterone Secretion

  • Aldosterone secretion is primarily regulated by the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS).
  • Activation of the RAAS occurs in response to low blood pressure, low blood volume, or low sodium levels.
  • Reduced blood flow to the kidneys stimulates the release of renin, which converts angiotensinogen to angiotensin I.
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) converts angiotensin I to angiotensin II, a potent stimulator of aldosterone release from the zona glomerulosa.

Clinical Conditions Associated with Adrenal Zona Glomerulosa

  1. primary aldosteronism (Conn Syndrome):

    • Characterized by excessive production of aldosterone, often due to an adrenal adenoma.
    • Symptoms include hypertension, hypokalemia, metabolic alkalosis, and muscle weakness.
    • Diagnosis is confirmed by an elevated aldosterone-to-renin ratio.
    • Treatment involves surgical removal of the affected adrenal gland or the use of aldosterone receptor antagonists.
  2. Secondary Aldosteronism:

    • Results from excessive activation of the RAAS due to conditions such as renal artery stenosis, heart failure, or cirrhosis.
    • Treatment focuses on addressing the underlying cause to normalize aldosterone levels.


The adrenal zona glomerulosa is a crucial component of the adrenal gland responsible for the synthesis and secretion of aldosterone. Understanding its anatomy, function, regulation, and associated clinical conditions is essential for medical professionals preparing for the USMLE exams.

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