Technische Universität München

The Entrepreneurial University

Glucocorticoids are naturally-produced steroid hormones, or synthetic compounds, that inhibit the process of inflammation. Natural glucocorticoids are produced in the adrenal glands located immediately above the kidneys. The region of the adrenal glands called the cortex is the site of glucocorticoid manufacture. Physiologically, they also participate in several metabolic regulations, above all in the glucose and lipid metabolism.

Glucocorticoids are used to stop the inflammation process. The inflammatory process in the body has been evolved for a useful purpose; namely as a defensive reaction to the damage or injury of the tissues. Inflammation is designed to isolate the cause of the irritation, to eradicate the presumed invader, and to repair the surrounding damaged tissue.

They differ from the infamous anabolic steroids that some athletes use to increase muscle mass and strength. Rather, glucocorticoids are catabolic steroids.  

Glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids are commonly named corticosteroids. They all share the same steroid skeleton but they differ in the group linked to C17 or in the direction of this group. Hydrocortisone an anti-inflammatory medicine is the most used glucocorticosteroid. In addition to natural corticosteroids, (cortisol, deoxycortone and hydrocortisone) synthetic steroids have been developed. These analogues try to separate the glucocorticoid effects from the mineralocorticoid ones. The most studied and used glucocorticoid is cortisol.