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Corticosteroids, also called adrenal cortex hormones, are steroids mainly produced by the adrenal cortex.


There are three major groups of corticosteroids.[1]


The 17-Ketosteroids are the sex steroids and are mainly produced in the zona reticularis layer (the innermost layer of the adrenal gland) of the adrenal cortex.


Glucocorticoids affect carbohydrate metabolism and inflammation are mainly produced in the zona fasciculata of the adrenal cortex. The naturally occurring glucocorticoids include hydrocortisone (also called cortisol).[2] The normal adult secretes 10 to 20 mg of cortisol per day.[3]


The hydroxycorticosteroids are mostly the mineralocorticoids and are mainly produced in the zona glomerulosa layer (the outermost layer of the adrenal gland) of the adrenal cortex.[4] The naturally occurring mineralocorticoids include aldosterone and deoxycorticosterone.

Relative potencies of the corticosteroids
Anti-inflammatory Salt-retention
Hydrocortisone 1 1
Cortisone 0.8 0.8
Prednisone 4 0.8
Prednisolone 4 0.8
Triamcinolone 5 0
Prednisolone 5 0
Methylprednisolone 5 0
Dexamethasone 30 0
Fludocortisone 10 250
Adapted from Cancer Medicine and US Pharmacist

Therapeutic uses

Infectious diseases

Corticosteroids are beneficial in treated selected infections[5]


  1. National Library of Medicine. Adrenal Cortex Hormones. Retrieved on 2007-11-27.
  2. Rhen T, Cidlowski JA (2005). "Antiinflammatory action of glucocorticoids--new mechanisms for old drugs". N. Engl. J. Med. 353 (16): 1711–23. DOI:10.1056/NEJMra050541. PMID 16236742. Research Blogging.
  3. Katzung, Bertram G. (2006). Basic and clinical pharmacology. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical Publishing Division. ISBN 0-07-145153-6. 
  4. White PC (1994). "Disorders of aldosterone biosynthesis and action". N. Engl. J. Med. 331 (4): 250–8. PMID 8015573[e]
  5. McGee S, Hirschmann J (May 2008). "Use of corticosteroids in treating infectious diseases". Arch. Intern. Med. 168 (10): 1034–46. DOI:10.1001/archinte.168.10.1034. PMID 18504331. Research Blogging.