cortisol

cortisol (kôrˈtĭsôlˌ) [key] or hydrocortisone, steroid hormone that in humans is the major circulating hormone of the cortex, or outer layer, of the adrenal gland. Like cortisone, cortisol is classed as a glucocorticoid; it stimulates liver glycogen formation while it decreases the rate of glucose utilization in body cells. A main effect of cortisol is to reduce the reserves of protein in all body cells except cells of the liver and gastrointestinal tract. It also makes fatty acids available for metabolic use. Cortisol is synthesized and secreted by the adrenal cortex in response to the stimulating substance adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). In turn, cortisol is the major regulator of ACTH production in the pituitary gland; it acts by negative feedback inhibition, i.e., a rise in the level of cortisol in the blood inhibits ACTH secretion by the pituitary. Cortisol, usually referred to as hydrocortisone when used medicinally, is more potent than cortisone with respect to metabolic and anti-inflammatory effects. See also corticosteroid drug; steroids.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on cortisol from Fact Monster:

  • Roundup of Recent Science Discoveries, 2001 - Roundup of Recent Science Discoveries, 2001 The Fog at the Beginning of the Universe A team of ...
  • endocrine system: The Hypothalamus - The Hypothalamus Physiological processes are under nervous system as well as endocrine control and ...
  • hydrocortisone - hydrocortisone hydrocortisone , another name for the steroid hormone cortisol, more especially used ...
  • corticosterone - corticosterone corticosterone , steroid hormone secreted by the outer layer, or cortex, of the ...
  • adrenal gland - adrenal gland adrenal gland or suprarenal gland, endocrine gland (see endocrine system) about 2 in. ...

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Biochemistry