Glucocorticoid receptor signaling in health and disease

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2013 Sep;34(9):518-30. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2013 Aug 14.


Glucocorticoids are steroid hormones regulated in a circadian and stress-associated manner to maintain various metabolic and homeostatic functions that are necessary for life. Synthetic glucocorticoids are widely prescribed drugs for many conditions including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and inflammatory disorders of the eye. Research in the past few years has begun to unravel the profound complexity of glucocorticoid signaling and has contributed remarkably to improved therapeutic strategies. Glucocorticoids signal through the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), a member of the superfamily of nuclear receptors, in both genomic and non-genomic ways in almost every tissue in the human body. In this review, we provide an update on glucocorticoid receptor signaling and highlight the role of GR signaling in physiological and pathophysiological conditions in the major organ systems in the human body.

Keywords: glucocorticoid-response element; inflammation; nuclear receptor; stress hormones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid