They are important in foetal development, promoting the maturing of the lungs, and are essential for brain development.
Glucocorticoids bind to the glucocorticoid receptor on cells. The newly formed complex moves into the cell nucleus, where it binds to a region on the target genes. This regulates gene expression. This process is referred to as transcriptional activation, or transactivation.
The proteins encoded by these up-regulated genes have a wide range of effects, including, for example:
A variety of synthetic glucocortisoids have been developed for medical use. In addition to the above two purposes, glucocorticoids play important roles in foetal development, and body fluid homeostasis.
- Pelt AC (2011). Glucocorticoids: effects, action mechanisms, and therapeutic uses. Hauppauge, N.Y.: Nova Science. ISBN 978-1617287589.
- Newton R, Holden NS (Oct 2007). "Separating transrepression and transactivation: a distressing divorce for the glucocorticoid receptor?". Molecular Pharmacology. 72 (4): 799–809. doi:10.1124/mol.107.038794. PMID 17622575. S2CID 52803631.