Glucocorticoid action and the development of selective glucocorticoid receptor ligands

Biotechnol Annu Rev. 2006;12:269-300. doi: 10.1016/S1387-2656(06)12008-6.


Glucocorticoids are important endocrine regulators of a wide range of physiological systems ranging from respiratory development, immune function to responses to stress. Glucocorticoids in cells activate the cytoplasmic glucocorticoid receptor (GR) that dimerizes, translocates to the nucleus and functions as a ligand-dependent transcriptional regulator. Synthetic glucocorticoids such as dexamethasone and prednisolone have for decades been the cornerstone for the clinical treatment of inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, and in some lymphoid cancers, yet its prolonged use has undesirable side effects such as obesity, diabetes, immune suppression and osteoporosis. Detailed knowledge on the mechanism of GR action has led to the development of novel selective glucocorticoid receptor modulators (SGRMs) that show promise of being efficacious for specific treatments of disease but with fewer side effects. SGRMs promote specific recruitment of transcriptional co-regulators that elicit specific gene responses and show promise of greater efficacy and specificity in treatment of inflammatory diseases and type-2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Therapy / methods
  • Glucocorticoids / chemistry
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology
  • Glucocorticoids / physiology*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology
  • Ligands
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / physiology
  • Molecular Structure
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / agonists
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / physiology*


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid