Glucocorticoids in sepsis: dissecting facts from fiction

Crit Care. 2011;15(3):158. doi: 10.1186/cc10101. Epub 2011 May 6.


An intact hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis with effective intracellular glucocorticoid anti-inflammatory activity is essential for host survival following exposure to an infectious agent. Glucocorticoids play a major role in regulating the activity of nuclear factor-kappa- B, which has a crucial and generalized role in inducing cytokine gene transcription after exposure to an invading pathogen. Severe sepsis is, however, associated with complex alterations of the HPA axis, which may result in decreased production of cortisol as well as glucocorticoid tissue resistance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glucocorticoids / blood*
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiology
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiology
  • Sepsis / blood*
  • Sepsis / drug therapy*


  • Glucocorticoids