A hormone (from Greek ὁρμή - "impetus") is a chemical released by a cell in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one cell to another. All multicellular organisms produce hormones; plant hormones are also called phytohormones. Hormones in animals are often transported in the blood. Cells respond to a hormone when they express a specific receptor for that hormone. The hormone binds to the receptor protein, resulting in the activation of a signal transduction mechanism that ultimately leads to cell type-specific responses.
Endocrine hormone molecules are secreted (released) directly into the bloodstream, whereas exocrine hormones (or ectohormones) are secreted directly into a duct, and, from the duct, they flow either into the bloodstream or from cell to cell by diffusion in a process known as paracrine signalling.