The adrenal cortex of mammals and humans produces many steroid hormones called corticosteroids. They are derivatives of pregnane and are chemically divided into 11-deoxyteroids, 11-oxysteroids and 11,17-oxysteroids. The first group includes deoxycorticosterone. The 11,17-oxysteroid group includes cortisone, cortisol (hydrocortisone) and a number of their derivatives. Cortisone, hydrocortisone, deoxycorticosterone are endogenous substances produced in the body. They are isolated in crystalline form and can be obtained synthetically.
A number of synthetic corticosteroid preparations are also used as medicines. Endogenous hormones of the adrenal cortex are essential for human and animal life. Animals die a few days after removal of the adrenal glands (adrenalctomy). Acute adrenal insufficiency is accompanied by a thickening of blood, a decrease in blood pressure, gastrointestinal disorders, asthenia, a decrease in body temperature and basal metabolism; there are also hyponatremia and hyperkalemia, hypoglycemia, retention of nitrogenous substances in the blood. The administration of corticosteroids to adrenectomized animals prevents the development of these pathological phenomena.
By their effect on metabolism, corticosteroids are conventionally divided into two groups: glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. Cortisone and hydrocortisone are the main representatives of glucocorticoids, deoxycorticosterone – mineralocorticoids.