Corticosteroid

From Academic Kids

In physiology, corticosteroids are a class of steroid hormones that are produced in the adrenal cortex. Corticosteroids are involved in a wide range of physiologic systems such as stress response, immune response and regulation of inflammation, carbohydrate metabolism, protein catabolism, blood electrolyte levels, and behavior.

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Some common natural hormones are corticosterone (C21H30O4), cortisone (C21H28O5, 17-hydroxy-11-dehydrocorticosterone) and aldosterone.

Uses

Synthetic drugs with corticosteroid-like effect are used in a variety of conditions, ranging from brain tumors to skin diseases. Dexamethasone and its derivatives are almost pure glucocorticoids, while prednisolone and its derivatives have some mineralocorticoid action in addition to the glucocorticoid effect. Fludrocortisone (Florinef®) is a synthetic mineralocorticoid. Hydrocortisone (cortisol) is available for replacement therapy, e.g. in adrenal insufficiency and congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

Synthetic glucocorticoids are used in the treatment of joint pain or inflammation (arthritis), dermatitis, allergic reactions, asthma, hepatitis, lupus erythematosus, inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease), sarcoidosis and for glucocorticoid replacement in Addison's disease or other forms of adrenal insufficiency. Topical formulations for treatment of skin or inflammatory bowel disease are available.

Typical undesired effects of glucocorticoids present quite uniformly as drug-induced Cushing's syndrome. Typical mineralocorticoid side effects are hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure), hypokalemia (low potassium levels in the blood), hypernatremia (high sodium levels in the blood) without causing peripheral edema, and metabolic alkalosis.

History

Tadeus Reichstein together with Edward Calvin Kendall and Philip Showalter Hench were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1950 for their work on hormones of the adrenal cortex which culminated in the isolation of cortisone.

Use of corticosteroids as a drug treatment had been in use for some time. Lewis Sarett of Merck & Co. was the first to synthesize cortisone, using a complicated 36-step process that started with desoxycholic acid, which was extracted from ox bile. The low efficiency of converting deoxycholic acid into cortisone led to a cost of US $200 per gram. Russell Marker, at Syntex, discovered a much cheaper and more convenient starting material, diosgenin from wild Mexican yams. His conversion of diosgenin into progesterone by a four-step process now known as Marker Degradation was an important step in mass production of all steroidal hormones, including cortisone and the birth control pill. In 1952, D.H. Peterson and H.C. Murray of Upjohn Co. developed a process that used Rhizopus mold to oxidize progesterone into a compound that was readily converted to cortisone. The ability to cheaply synthesize large quantities of cortisone from the diosgenin in yams resulted in a rapid drop in price to US $6 per gram, falling to $0.46 per gram by 1980. The research of Percy Julian also aided progress in the field. The exact nature of cortisone's anti-inflammatory nature remained a mystery for years after however, until the leukocyte adhesion cascade was fully understood in the early 1980s.

See also

nl:Corticostero´de pl:Kortykosterydy pt:Costicosterˇide

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