Functions of the Glucocorticoids

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Even though mineralocorticoids can save the life of an acutely adrenalectomized animal, the animal still is far from normal. Instead, its metabolic systems for utilization of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats remain considerably deranged. Furthermore, the

Figure 77-4

Effects of treating sodium-depleted dogs with an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor for 7 days to block formation of angiotensin II (Ang II) and of infusing exogenous Ang II to restore plasma Ang II levels after ACE inhibition. Note that blocking Ang II formation reduced plasma aldosterone concentration with little effect on cortisol, demonstrating the important role of Ang II in stimulating aldosterone secretion during sodium depletion. (Drawn from data in Hall JE, Guyton AC, Smith MJ Jr, Coleman TG: Chronic blockade of angiotensin II formation during sodium deprivation. Am J Physiol 237:F424, 1979.)

animal cannot resist different types of physical or even mental stress, and minor illnesses such as respiratory tract infections can lead to death. Therefore, the glu-cocorticoids have functions just as important to the long-continued life of the animal as those of the min-eralocorticoids. They are explained in the following sections.

At least 95 per cent of the glucocorticoid activity of the adrenocortical secretions results from the secretion of cortisol, known also as hydrocortisone. In addition to this, a small but significant amount of glu-cocorticoid activity is provided by corticosterone.

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