Corticoid means any group that comprises 40 organic compounds belonging to the steroid family and is present in the adrenal gland of the living body. Out of all the corticoids, only six of them act as hormones and are generated in the bloodstream and are transferred to the tissues of the body where they generate physiological responses. The other corticoids that are not active hormones, act as intermediates in the biosynthesis of hormones from cholesterol. These hormones are categorized into two segments depending on their effects on the targeted organs, namely, mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids are cortisols whose main function is to store glycogen, a stored form of glucose, in the liver and maintain the blood sugar concentration in the body. Additionally, it converts fats to carbohydrates to generate energy for the body. The pituitary gland is responsible for the generation of adrenocorticotropic hormone in the system that regulates the formation of glucocorticoids. Other than this, there are certain powerful hormones that regulate the extraction of mineralocorticoids that has its effect on aldosterone that controls the sodium metabolism in mammals and also controls the excretion of magnesium in the urine. Due to the successful and effective functioning of cortisone, many synthetic substitutes of corticoids are available for medical applications worldwide, most common of which is its use in chemotherapy.
What are Corticosteroids?
Corticosteroids definition: corticosteroids are a certain class of hormones that work as steroids and are produced in the adrenal cortex of the vertebrate and behave as synthetic analogs of hormones. In simpler words, corticosteroid meaning they are also referred to as corticosteroid hormones which have various metabolic functions and some are used to treat any kind of inflammation in the body and are produced in the adrenal cortex of vertebrates or made synthetically. Some of the corticosteroid hormones that occur naturally in the body are aldosterone (C21H28O5), cortisol (C21H30O5), cortisone (C21H28O5) and corticosterone (C21H30O4). The structure of cortisol (hydrocortisone), a corticosteroid is given below.
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From the above structural representation of the cortisol (corticosteroid), it is established that it is a C-21 steroid. Here pregn-4-ene is substituted by hydroxyl group at 17th and 21st position and oxo group at 3, 11 and 20th position. It plays a very important role in regulating the metabolism system in the human body. It can be represented in many chemical forms like 17 alpha-hydroxy steroid, 21- hydroxy steroid, 3-oxo-delta(4) steroid, an 11-oxo steroid and a 20 oxo steroid. As it is derived from hydride and pregnane it is also an alpha-hydroxy ketone, a tertiary alpha-hydroxy ketone and a glucocorticoid.
Some of the physical properties of cortisol (corticosteroids) are:-
Physical Properties of Corticosteroids
Chemical Properties of Cortisol (Corticosteroids) are:-
Medical Uses of Corticosteroids
The medical uses of corticosteroids are:
Glucocorticoids are important corticosteroids whose main function is to store glycogen, a stored form of glucose, in the liver and maintain the blood sugar concentration in the body.
Mineralocorticoids are another type of corticosteroid that has its effect on aldosterone that controls the sodium metabolism in mammals and also controls the excretion of magnesium in the urine.
For treating adrenal insufficiency and congenital adrenal hyperplasia a particular form of cortisol called hydrocortisone is typically used.
corticosteroid hormones have various metabolic functions and some are used to treat any kind of inflammation in the body and are produced in the adrenal cortex of vertebrates or made synthetically.
Apart from treating lupus, leukaemia, severe psoriasis and autoimmune hemolytic anaemia, glucocorticoid is also used to suppress the immune system in people undergoing ant organ transplantation to avoid rejection from the body.
Certain medical conditions like asthma, bronchitis, arthritis, allergies, some conditions aggravating skin rashes, colitis etc are treated by systemic corticosteroids.
Fludrocortisone is an important systemic oral mineralocorticoid that is used to treat diseases that generally occur in adrenal hyperplasia due to loss of salt. It is also used to treat low blood pressure though it is not FDA approved for the same.
Adverse Effects of Corticosteroids
Some of the adverse effects of corticosteroids are:
They can promote retention of sodium chloride commonly known as salt in the body that results in weight gain and swelling in the legs (edema)
High concentration of corticosteroids can result in loss of potassium, headache, high blood pressure, muscle weakness, puffiness of face, glaucoma, cataract, slow healing of wound, loss of diabetic control of body etc.
Since cortisol is capable of suppressing the immune system, thus the presence of it in high concentration in the body may result in low immunity that can prevent the effectiveness of the vaccines or antibiotics.
Long term use of corticosteroids can cause loss of calcium in the body that can lead to osteoporosis and fracturing of bones.
The long term use of corticosteroids causes the shrinking of glands that results in less synthesis of natural corticosteroids, cortisol, in the body. Thus the inability of the body to secret enough cortisol leads to nausea, vomiting and nervous shocks.