The pharmacological actions of steroids are generally an extension of their physiological effects. Adrenal cor-ticosteroids exert effects on almost every organ in the body. In normal physiological concentrations, they are essential for homeostasis, for coping with stress, and for the very maintenance of life.
The designation "glucocorticoid activity" is arbitrary, since naturally occurring glucocorticoids, such as cortisol, also possess mineralocorticoid activity, and the principal mineralocorticoid, aldosterone, when administered in very high doses, has glucocorticoid activity. Moreover, hydrocortisone, as well as certain synthetic glucocorticoids, such as prednisone and dexametha-sone, binds to mineralocorticoid receptors. However, the distinction between these two groups serves a useful purpose when dissociation of the basic actions becomes crucial for optimizing steroids' therapeutic efficiency.
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