Enzymes vs. Hormones: 33 Differences, Examples

Enzymes and hormones are bio-genic substances present in all living organisms whose function, formation, secretion and purpose varies in both plants and animals.

Enzymes vs. Hormones

An enzyme is a highly selective catalyst that greatly accelerates both the rate and specificity of metabolic reactions. A hormone, on the other hand, is a chemical released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism.

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Here are some of the differences:





1. Definition Enzymes are the biological macromolecules which speed up the rate of biochemical reactions without undergoing any change. Hormones are molecules, usually a peptide (eg: insulin) or steroid (eg: estrogen) that is produced in one part of an organism and trigger specific cellular reactions in target tissues and organs some distance away.
2. Also called Biological catalysts Chemical messengers
3. Chemical composition All enzymes are generally proteins except ribozymes (RNA with catalytic activity). Hormones may be polypeptides, terpenoids, steroids, phenolics compounds or amines.
4. Prosthetic group Enzymes have vitamins and inorganic element as their prosthetic groups, without which, they do not act. They have no such prosthetic groups.
5. Molecular weight They are macromolecules with higher molecular weight. They have comparatively a low molecular weight.
6. Site of action Mostly enzymes perform reactions at the place of origin i.e. in cells where they are produced. Hormones perform activity at some distance away from the site of origin.
7. Carried through They either act intracellularly or carried by some ducts to another site. Generally carried by blood to a target organ.
8. At the end of the reaction Remain unchanged. They participate in biological reaction and their chemical composition is changed.
9. Reutilization They and can be reutilized. They cannot be reutilized as such.
10. Specificity Enzymes are substrate specific i.e. depends on the substrate to perform the function. Hormones are target cell specific and depend on positive and negative feedback mechanism.
11. Formation

(in animals)

In animals enzymes are synthesized and secreted by exocrine glands. Hormones are synthesized and secreted by endocrine glands.
12. Producer cells Salivary glands, Secretory cells in the stomach, pancreas and secretory glands in the small intestine. Glands such as Pituitary, Pineal, Thymus, Adrenal, Thyroid, Pancreas.
13. Diffusibility through Cell Membrane They are non-diffusible through cell membrane. They are diffusible through cell membrane.
14. Translocation Enzymes are not translocate from one part to another part of cell. Most of the hormones show polar translocation.
15. Reaction type They catalyze reversible reactions. Hormone controlled reactions are not reversible.
16. Reaction time They act quickly. Some hormones are quick acting, while some are slow acting with a lag period.
17. Effect It increases the rate of metabolic physiological processes. They may be either excitatory or inhibitory in their action.
18. Increase in conce ntration Reaction rate increases with increase in their concentration up to a limit. Deficiency or overproduction of hormone causes metabolic disorders or diseases.
19. Main function They act as catalysts to enhance rate of biochemical reactions. Signal passers from one cell to other or between organs.
20. Involvement in bodily functions Involved in a variety of metabolic reactions such as that of digestion. They are involved in sexual development and reproduction, growth and development of tissues and organs, regulation of available energy and heat, and regulation of the body’s internal balance between concentrations of water and ions.
21. Interdependency Enzymes are in work after getting message from hormones. They convey message and do not depend on enzyme for function.
22. Stimulation Produced as a result of stimulation. Act as a stimulating agent.
23. Function dependent on Presence of substrate Their function depends on positive and negative feedback mechanism.
24. Attack on Substrate Cell or tissues
25. Catalyst Enzymes are biological catalyst. They catalyze the biological reactions. Hormones are not catalyst. They simply initiate biochemical reactions.
26. Role in metabolism They are not used in metabolic functions rather take part in metabolism. They are used up in metabolic functions.
27. Morphogenesis They cannot regulate morphogenesis. Generally regulate morphogenesis, especially secondary sex character.
28. Regulation They function under strict conditions of temperature and pH in body. They are not limited by temperature or pH but controlled by brain or external factors.
29. Inhibited by Specific inhibitor molecules that control the enzyme reaction rate. Hormones are controlled by special inhibitor hormones.
30. Contribution to life They have limited but essential functions. They have diverse functions to control body growth, reproduction and physiology.
31. Variation with age They are same and do not change with age. They tend to change with age. As the age grows some hormones start to appear and at old age some hormones start to disappear like in menopause.
32. Diseases Their diseases are less comparatively and mostly due to insufficiency. Hormones changes cause many disorders. It can be due to excess or even insufficiency
33. Examples Hydrolases, oxidases, and isomerase Oxytocin, cortisol, testosterone, and estrogen in animals and abscisic acid, cytokines, and gibberellins in plants are the examples of hormones.


  1. https://microbiologyinfo.com/differences-between-enzymes-and-hormones/
  2. https://www.majordifferences.com/2013/03/difference-between-enzymes-and-hormones.html
  3. https://www.studyread.com/difference-between-enzymes-and-hormones/
  4. https://biodifferences.com/difference-between-enzymes-and-hormones.html
  5. http://www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-enzymes-and-hormones
  6. http://pediaa.com/difference-between-hormone-and-enzyme/

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Sagar Aryal

Sagar Aryal is a microbiologist and a scientific blogger. He is doing his Ph.D. at the Central Department of Microbiology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. He was awarded the DAAD Research Grant to conduct part of his Ph.D. research work for two years (2019-2021) at Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), Saarbrucken, Germany. Sagar is interested in research on actinobacteria, myxobacteria, and natural products. He is the Research Head of the Department of Natural Products, Kathmandu Research Institute for Biological Sciences (KRIBS), Lalitpur, Nepal. Sagar has more than ten years of experience in blogging, content writing, and SEO. Sagar was awarded the SfAM Communications Award 2015: Professional Communicator Category from the Society for Applied Microbiology (Now: Applied Microbiology International), Cambridge, United Kingdom (UK). Sagar is also the ASM Young Ambassador to Nepal for the American Society for Microbiology since 2023 onwards.

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