Mineralocorticoids vs glucocorticoids – Function, disorders, medications, differences

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Mineralocorticoids vs glucocorticoids - Function, disorders, medications, differences


They are produced in the adrenal cortex. The adrenal glands are two small glands that look like fungal caps. These glands weigh only 1.5-2.5 grams and are 1-2 inches long. An adrenal gland sits on each kidney.

In humans, the left adrenal gland has a semilunar shape, while the right adrenal gland has a triangular shape. Although they are small, they are essential for human health and survival.

For example, they influence the balance of salt and water (fluid balance and electrolyte balance) by acting on minerals, especially potassium and sodium. They act mainly on the kidney, where they cause the active excretion of protons and potassium, and the retention of water and sodium.


The main mineralocorticoid is aldosterone, which represents most of the activities of this group of hormones. Aldosterone is produced from the corticosterone precursor to the glomerulosa zone of the adrenal cortex in response to angiotensin II. However, recent studies concluded that other tissues besides the adrenal cortex may also be capable of biosynthesis of this hormone, such as the central nervous and cardiovascular systems.

Aldosterone plays a crucial role in regulating the balance of electrolytes and fluids in the salivary glands, kidneys, large intestine and sweat glands.


The main effects of mineralocorticoids are the increase in potassium secretion and the reabsorption of sodium in the renal tubules. The secondary functions are related to the reabsorption of water, the secretion of hydrogen ions and the reabsorption of anions. The result of these activities is the maintenance of electrolyte and fluid balance, as well as adequate cardiac output.

In addition, the effects of extracellular fluid volume on the distal acidification of the nephrons can mediate and are an essential determinant of the net excretion of acid by the kidneys.


Disorders of any of the mineralocorticoids function or production It can cause serious alterations in the potassium, sodium and water content of the human body.

Elevated aldosterone levels associated with long-term stimulation of the Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone system are implicated in the development of hypertension, hypervolemia and hypokalemia. Conversely, without sufficient mineralocorticoid levels, a reduced cardiac output can cause hyperkalemia, hyponatremia, hypotension, dehydration, death and cardiac arrest. Mineralocorticoid replacement is necessary only in primary adrenal insufficiency.

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The drugs

Florinef Acetate contains fludrocortisone acetate, a drug that has a high glucocorticoid activity and powerful mineralocorticoid effects. Fludrocortisone is used only for its mineralocorticoid effects.

In adrenal insufficiency, it is usually taken together with hydrocortisone, a synthetic hormone that is part of a class of medications called steroids, which act by activating natural substances in the skin to reduce redness, swelling and itching.


They are hormones that are produced by the adrenal gland. They regulate the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The release of glucocorticoids from the adrenal cortex is initially triggered by the corticotropin-releasing hormone made by the hypothalamus (a region of the brain composed of many small nuclei with a variety of functions).

The vast majority of glucocorticoid activity comes from cortisol, also known as hydrocortisone.


These hormones have powerful anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties. Glucocorticoids inhibit numerous molecules associated with inflammation, such as chemokines, cytokines (produced by immune cells, including B lymphocytes, macrophages, and mast cells), adhesion molecules, and arachidonic acid metabolites.

In case of excessive bleeding, they contract the blood vessels to compensate for the fall in blood pressure due to the loss of blood. They also increase the level of glucose in the blood (sugar) by converting fats and proteins into carbohydrates, which in turn turn into glucose (sugar).

The name "glucocorticoid" derives from initial studies that show that this type of hormones was involved in glucose metabolism. During times when food is not consumed, they stimulate some processes that serve to maintain and increase the concentrations of glucose in the blood.


Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough of the hormone cortisol and, in some patients, the hormone aldosterone. For this reason, Addison's disease is also known as hypocortisolism or chronic adrenal insufficiency. The main adrenal insufficiency occurs due to the destruction of the adrenal gland. Other causes include: tuberculosis and other diseases that infiltrate the adrenal glands.

The drugs

Glucocorticoids drug They are synthetic versions of glucocorticoids, hormones that occur naturally in the human body. Its power to induce lymphocyte apoptosis combined with potent immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory activity places these medications among the most commonly prescribed drugs worldwide.

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Examples of these medications include:

prednisone; beclomethasone; prednisolone; methylprednisolone; triamcinolone; hydrocortisone; dexamethasone; cortisone; budesonide; betamethasone

In people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (a genetic condition described by progressive muscle weakness and degeneration), treatment with these drugs is associated with a significantly lower risk of losing clinically significant mobility, as well as a lower risk of death.

In addition, as anti-inflammatory agents, they are commonly used in the treatment of bronchial asthma, an inflammatory disease of the respiratory tract that causes periodic attacks of wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath.

Note: According to a recent study published in AJP, the use of these drugs in the treatment of lower respiratory tract infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is related to an increased risk of neuropsychiatric disorders and suicidal behavior.

Mineralocorticoids vs Glucocorticoids – Differences

The mineralocorticoids are a group of hormones (the most important is aldosterone) that regulate the balance of electrolytes (ions such as potassium and sodium) and water in the human body. Without sufficient supply of these hormones, fatal shock of decrease in cardiac output It can happen very quickly.

The main glucocorticoid hormone is called cortisol and plays an essential role in the regulation of primary. body functions.

In conclusion, mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids are steroid hormones that are secreted exclusively by the adrenal glands. They produce effects by coupling with receptors on the surface of the cell membrane.

Mineralocorticoids control the balance of water and electrolytes in the body. They do not have any negative impact on the body. The loss of glucocorticoid secretion leads to an inability to cope with stressors, which is fatal.

On the other hand, the main task of glucocorticoids is to control fats, carbohydrates and other proteins within the body. They also have powerful antiallergic and anti-inflammatory effects. Failure to produce these hormones is not life-threatening.


Mineralocorticoids vs Glucocorticoids – Function, disorders, drugs, differences, Source: https://www.yourhealthremedy.com/health-tips/mineralocorticoids-vs-glucocorticoids/

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