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(Science: drug, endocrinology, pharmacology) Any of the steroids elaborated by the adrenal cortex (excluding the sex Hormones of adrenal origin) in response to the release of adrenocorticotrophin or adrenocorticotropic hormone (acth) by the pituitary gland, to any of the synthetic equivalents of these steroids or to angiotensin ii.

They are divided, according to their predominant biological activity, into three major groups: glucocorticoids (e.g. Cortisol, cortisone), chiefly influencing carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism, mineralocorticoids (for example aldosterone), affecting the regulation of electrolyte and water balance and C19 androgens.

Some corticosteroids exhibit both types of activity in varying degrees and others exert only one type of effect.

The corticosteroids are used clinically for hormonal replacement therapy, for suppression of acth secretion by the anterior pituitary, as antineoplastic, antiallergic and anti-inflammatory agents and to suppress the immune response.

Synonym: adrenocortical hormone, corticoid.