Differences between hormone & enzyme

Today, in this post we will explain the main differences between hormones and enzymes, their main functions and chemical processes that make them so different.

Difference between hormone and enzyme

The difference between an enzyme and a hormone is that the enzyme is protein in nature and acts as a catalyst that increases the speed of the different reactions that take place in the body. Hormones are chemical messengers that transmit signals to cells to perform different functions.

There are many differences in enzymes and hormones. Enzymes are proteins in nature, while hormones are chemical messengers. Enzymes are the biocatalyst, that is, they improve the speed of the different reactions that occur in the body, while hormones transmit a signal to cells to perform different functions.

Hormones play a key role in the growth and development of the body, but enzymes do not play the role in the body’s growth. Enzymes act at the site where they are produced, but hormones act at a distant site from where they are released.

The function of enzymes is affected by temperature and pH, whereas hormones are not specific to temperature and pH. A specific enzyme acts on a specific substrate, whereas hormones are not substrate specific.

Enzymes have a high molecular weight because they contain complex long-chain polypeptides, while hormones have a lower molecular weight because they contain small, simple chemical messengers.

Enzymes cannot diffuse through a biological membrane, whereas hormones can diffuse through a biological membrane.

Enzymes are generated in the exocrine glands that release their products through a duct, while hormones are generated by the endocrine glands that release their product into the blood.

Enzymes are not affected by age, while the generation and function of hormones alter with age, such as before puberty, puberty, and menopause.

Enzymes depend on hormones. They need a signal from the hormone to start their action, whereas hormones are not dependent on enzymes.

There is less chance of disease occurrence due to an enzyme deficiency, whereas diseases due to hormonal disorders are very common.

Enzymes can be used again after they have performed their function, while hormones cannot be used again after they have performed their function. They are naturally destroyed.

Examples of enzymes are hydrolases, transferases, and oxidoreductases. While the examples of hormones are insulin, glucagon and thyroid hormone.

What are enzymes?

Enzymes are specific types of proteins present in the body that act as a catalyst. The catalyst is the substances that accelerate a chemical reaction. Enzymes are the biocatalyst in the sense that they act within living things and affect biological functions.

The enzymes are synthesized by the exocrine glands that release their products into the ducts. Mainly, an enzyme acts in the same place where it is released. They have high molecular weight due to the presence of heavy polypeptide chains. Due to their heavyweight, they cannot cross the cell membrane.

Deficiency of an enzyme in the body that is required for a specific function can lead to any disease, but these abnormalities are rare. Enzymes can be used over and over again after their first use in any reaction.

 A specific enzyme binds only to a specific substrate at the receptor site. The binding of the enzyme to its receptor site can be explained by a blockade, and the key model as a specific blockade opens a specific blockade, just as a specific enzyme binds to a specific receptor site.

The function of the enzyme is altered with the change of temperature and pH. The temperature and pH at which an enzyme works most efficiently are called the optimum temperature and pH for that enzyme.

How are enzymes classified?

Having understood what they are and how they work at the biochemical level, we can now go on to analyze the different types of enzymes that exist. As we have said, there are more than 75,000 different enzymes and each of them is unique, since it has an affinity for a specific substrate and, consequently, performs a specific function.

1. Oxidoreductases

Oxidoreductases are enzymes that stimulate oxidation and reduction reactions, known “popularly” as redox reactions. In this sense, oxidoreductases are proteins that, in a chemical reaction, allow the transfer of electrons or hydrogen from one substrate to another.

In this sense, oxidoreductases are enzymes that stimulate this “theft” of electrons, since the oxidizing agent is, in essence, an electron thief.

Be that as it may, the result of these biochemical reactions is the obtaining of anions (negatively charged molecules since they have absorbed more electrons) and cations (positively charged molecules since they have lost electrons).

2. Hydrolases

Hydrolases are enzymes that, broadly speaking, have the function of breaking bonds between molecules through a hydrolysis process in which, as we can deduce from their name, water is involved.

In this sense, we start from a union of two molecules (A and B). Hydrolase, in the presence of water, is capable of breaking this bond and obtaining the two molecules separately: one remains with a hydrogen atom and the other with a hydroxyl group (OH).

3. Transferases

Transferases are enzymes that, as their name suggests, stimulate the transfer of chemical groups between molecules. They are different from oxidoreductases in the sense that they transfer any chemical group except hydrogen. An example is phosphate groups.

And unlike hydrolases, transferases are not part of catabolic metabolism (degradation of complex molecules to get simple ones), but anabolic, which consists of spending energy to synthesize more complex molecules from simple molecules.

4. Garters

Ligaases are enzymes that stimulate the formation of covalent bonds between molecules, which are the strongest “glue” in biology. These covalent bonds are established between two atoms, which, when joined, share electrons.

This makes them very strong junctions and especially important, at the cellular level, to establish the junctions between nucleotides. These nucleotides are each of the pieces that make up our DNA. In fact, genetic material is “just” a succession of molecules of this type.

5. Lyases

Lyases are enzymes very similar to hydrolases in the sense that their function is to break chemical bonds between molecules and that, therefore, they are a fundamental part of catabolic reactions, but in this case, lyases do not require the presence of water.

In addition, they are not only capable of breaking links, but of forming them. In this sense, lyases are enzymes that allow the stimulation of reversible chemical reactions, so that from a complex substrate it is possible to go from a complex substrate to a simpler one by breaking its bonds, but it is also possible to go from this simple substrate to the complex again establishing their union.

6. Isomerases

Isomerases are enzymes that neither break bonds nor form them, nor do they stimulate the transfer of chemical groups between molecules. In this sense, isomerases are proteins whose metabolic action is based on altering the chemical structure of a substrate.

By changing its shape (without adding chemical groups or modifying their bonds), it is possible for the same molecule to perform a totally different function. Therefore, isomerases are enzymes that stimulate the production of isomers, that is, new structural conformations of a molecule that, thanks to this modification of its three-dimensional structure, behave differently.

What are hormones?

Hormones are the chemical messengers produced in the body that they transmit to cells. Hormones are low molecular weight chemicals, and that is why they can easily cross biological membranes.

Hormones are produced by the endocrine glands that release their products into the blood. Hormones act at a site that is far from the site of their release and production. The function of hormones changes with age.

For example, at puberty, testosterone and estrogen production increases in men and women, respectively. Hormones are not substrate specific, and their function is not affected by change in temperature and pH. The excessive or insufficient production of a hormone can cause different diseases in the body.

For example, gigantism occurs due to overproduction of growth hormone. Hyperthyroidism occurs due to overproduction of thyroid hormone. Short stature results when growth hormone is not produced in the required amount. Examples of hormones are growth hormone, progesterone, estrogen.

Some people also think that a neurotransmitter and hormones are the same, but it isn’t.

Types of hormones

Different types of hormones can be classified in different ways. According to their origin, they are divided into natural and synthetic. The former are those produced by the body naturally, and the latter is obtained in a laboratory, generally to compensate for some pathological deficit.

Likewise, the different types of hormones can be classified according to their area of ​​action. Thus, we have:

  • Autocrine hormones: they act only in the area of ​​the cell that synthesizes them.
  • Paracrine hormones: they act on cells neighboring the cell that synthesizes them.

From the point of view of their nature, they are divided into:

  • Steroid hormones: those that come from cholesterol, such as androgens, testosterone, progesterone and estrogen.
  • Protein hormones: those that are formed from a chain of amino acids and peptides, such as insulin and glucagon.

According to their chemical composition, they are classified into: 

  • Peptide hormones: They are made up of chains of amino acids, polypeptides, and oligopeptides, such as vasopressin, insulin, and growth hormone.
  • Lipid hormones: they are lipophilic in nature, such as testosterone and cortisol.
  • Derived from amino acids: they come from tryptophan or tyrosine, such as adrenaline.

Finally, based on their solubility, they are divided into:

  • Hydrophilic: dissolve in water.
  • Lipophilic: they do not dissolve in water, but they do dissolve in lipids.

Key differences

Enzymes are biocatalysts that increase the speed of a reaction in the body, while hormones are chemical messengers that they transmit to cells.

The exocrine glands produce enzymes, while the endocrine glands produce hormones.

Enzymes act on specific substrates for them, whereas hormones are not substrate specific.

The function of enzymes is affected by the change in temperature and pH, while that of hormones is not affected.

Enzymes act in the place where they are generated, while hormones act in distant places.

Hormones and enzymes are the substances produced in our body and affect metabolism. It is mandatory to know the difference between the two. In the previous article, we learned the clear differences between enzymes and hormones.

FAQS: Difference between hormone and enzyme

What are the differences between hormones enzymes and vitamins?

Vitamins are small but essential nutrients that can not be provided by organisms on their own. From one part of an organism to another, hormones act as chemical messengers. There are molecules of life as well. Protein molecules that act as catalysts are enzymes.

Are enzymes biological hormones?

Since enzymes are catalysts, they remain intact at the end of the reaction and can be reused. Since hormones are not catalysts, biochemical reactions are involved, and their chemical structure is altered and can not be reused as such.

What is the difference between an enzyme and a coenzyme?

Unlike enzymes, coenzymes are modified during the chemical reaction.

What are enzymes function?

Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions in living things. Enzymes are catalysts, that is, substances that, without being consumed in a reaction, significantly increase their speed.

What is the relationship between vitamins and enzymes?

Vitamins are precursors of coenzymes, (although they are not properly enzymes) prosthetic groups of enzymes.

In this post we explained the main differences between hormones and enzymes, their main functions and chemical processes that make them so different.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know!


Norman, A. W., & Litwack, G. (1997). Hormones. Academic Press.

Boyer, P. D., & Krebs, E. G. (1986). The enzymes. Academic Press.