Difference between Enzymes and Hormones

BiologyDifferencesHuman Body

The two main chemical compounds Enzymes and Hormones are responsible for maintaining Homeostasis, which is a self-regulating process of the body that maintains overall well-being of the body while adjusting to changing external conditions.

This article elaborates how Enzymes and Hormones are main contributors to health and how they are different in various ways.

What are Enzymes?

Enzymes are the proteins produced in the bodies of living organisms, which accelerate metabolism and regulate a large number of chemical reactions taking place in the body, without altering or disturbing them. Enzymes are found in all kinds of tissues throughout the body and bodily fluids, which our bodies produce naturally. Enzymes are known as ‘Biological Catalysts’. Approximately 1500 enzymes are identified in the cells till now.

What do the Enzymes do?

Enzymes play a pivotal role in controlling the activities like breathing, digestion, excretion, building muscles, and some metabolic activities like regulating clotting of blood, to name a few. Enzymes work to retain and promote a healthy life.

Enzymes can catalyse more than 5000 biochemical reactions in the body. Each individual enzyme has a unique function in the body. Almost all metabolic processes need enzymes catalysis in the cells.

Types of Enzymes

The digestive enzyme named Sucrase breaks down a sugar named Sucrose, Lactase breaks down the sugar present in milk and milk products, Protease breaks down proteins into amino acids, and Amylase breaks down starch into smaller carbohydrate molecules. The lever enzymes break down toxins so that the body can throw them away quickly.

How Do Enzymes Work?

Each enzyme has an area on it named "Active Site". The molecule with which the Enzyme reacts is called a "Substrate". Only the Substrates can bind to the Active Sites. The Active Site and the Substrate can be either shaped in complement to each other (lock-and-key model) or they both can adjust their shapes (induce-fit model) to form a bond.

As a result of this chemical reaction, a new product molecule is formed, which separates from the enzyme. Thus, the enzyme is not consumed in the process, and they can be used repeatedly.

Enzymes can work at their best under 37 °C temperature and when they are in a certain pH range (acidic or alkaline). They perform depending on their location in the body. For example, the enzymes in the intestine work best when the pH is nearly 7.5 and the ones in the stomach work well at pH value 2. If the temperature is either too high or too low or if the pH values are not conducive then the enzyme changes shape, which in turn changes the shape of the active site and the condition makes it impossible for the substrates to bind to the active site.

Practical Uses of Enzymes Outside the Living Organism’s Body

Enzymes facilitate the process of fermentation, which is the basis of many industries such as bakery, winery, brewery, cheese-making, fruit-juice making, and producing tea and vinegar. Some enzymes are used in the leather industry to soften leather. Highly purified enzymes are used in the field of medicine and Biochemical analysis.

Hormones are chemicals that coordinate different functions in a living organism's body by carrying messages to another part of the body through their blood to their organs, skin, muscles, and tissues. Hormones are known as "Chemical Messengers".

What are Hormones?

Organisms contain specialized organs called glands. Glands produce and release different hormones into the blood directly. A hormone only acts on a part of the body if it perfectly fits. Means the cell walls of the target tissue has receptors that can receive the hormone's message. The message then triggers the target tissue to act.

The following diagram shows an overview of how hormones work −

Hormones creation happens in the following two ways of communication −

  • Gland-to-gland − One gland releases hormones, which triggers some other gland to reduce its hormone release.
  • Gland-to-organ − Release of hormones from one gland triggers an organ to act.

Types of Hormones

Though more than 50 hormones have been identified so far, here are some important hormones −

  • Hypothalamus gland located in the brain controls mood, sleep pattern, hunger & thirst, and sexual function.

  • Pituitary gland located in the brain controls how the body grows.

  • Thyroid gland located in the throat controls metabolism.

  • Adrenal glands located one on top of each kidney control metabolism, blood pressure, sexual development, and response to stress.

  • Pineal gland releases melatonin hormone that induces sleep.

  • Pancreas makes a hormone called insulin that controls the level of sugar in your blood.

  • Ovaries release sex hormones called estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone in women.

  • Testes release the testosterone hormone that influences sperm production, muscle strength, and sex drive.

  • Parathyroid gland located in Thyroid gland, controls calcium balance in blood, bones, and teeth.

  • Placenta, the temporary organ developed in the womb of a pregnant woman produces estrogen and progesterone adequately so that the pregnancy is maintained.

Usage of Hormones

Hormones are essential for overall physical and mental health. Hormones keep the internal balance of blood pressure, blood sugar, amount of water in the body. They also regulate mood swings, the way one thinks, sleep cycles, reproduction, and growth of the living organism.

Difference between Enzymes and Hormones

The following table highlights the major differences between Enzymes and Hormones −

Key Factor Enzyme Hormone
Chemical Composition Enzymes are proteins. Hormones can either be made up of proteins, amino acids or even steroids.
The Way They Function Enzymes accelerate biochemical reactions in the body. Hormones stimulates organs' function.
Reuse Enzyme structure doesn't change after its use in the biochemical reaction. Hence, they can be reused. Hormones may or may not be reused.
Effect of External Factors Enzymes are affected due to change in temperature or pH values. Hormones are totally an internal matter; they are not affected by external factors.
Effect of Aging Enzymes are not changes due to aging. Hormones can change substantially due to aging.
Reaction Time Enzymes react very fast, like 1000 biochemical reactions in a second. Hormones can react either fast or slow when there is some lag period after their release.
Place of Activity Enzymes act at the place of origin means in the cells where they exist. Hormones perform activity at some distance away from the site of origin.
Diseases they Lead to The diseases occur mainly due to lack of Enzymes. The diseases occur mainly due to the hormones being secreted too much or too less.


Both Enzymes and Hormones are chemical compounds. They both are made of proteins, and they both contribute to a great extent in an individual’s well-being. There are a large number of differences in the way they appear, act, and perform. Lack of Enzymes, or scarcity or increase in Hormones beyond the permitted values can lead to many diseases.

Updated on 03-Aug-2022 12:09:54