Extra-adrenal glucocorticoid synthesis in the intestinal epithelium: more than a drop in the ocean?

Semin Immunopathol. 2009 Jul;31(2):237-48. doi: 10.1007/s00281-009-0159-2. Epub 2009 Jun 3.


Glucocorticoids (GC) are lipophilic hormones commonly used as therapeutics in acute and chronic inflammatory disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease due to their attributed anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive actions. Although the adrenal glands are the major source of endogenous GC, there is increasing evidence for the production of extra-adrenal GC in the brain, thymus, skin, vasculature, and the intestine. However, the physiological relevance of extra-adrenal-produced GC remains still ambiguous. Therefore, this review attracts attention to discuss possible biological benefits of extra-adrenal-synthesized GC, especially focusing on the impact of locally synthesized GC in the regulation of intestinal immune responses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / immunology
  • Adrenal Glands / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Glucocorticoids / biosynthesis*
  • Glucocorticoids / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Organ Specificity / immunology


  • Glucocorticoids