Glucocorticoids and Metabolic Control

Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2016;233:73-93. doi: 10.1007/164_2015_1.


In response to stress, the central nervous system initiates a signaling cascade, which leads to the production of glucocorticoids (GCs). GCs act through the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) to coordinate the appropriate cellular response with the primary goal of mobilizing the storage forms of carbon precursors to generate a continuous glucose supply for the brain. Although GCs are critical for maintaining energy homeostasis, excessive GC stimulation leads to a number of undesirable side effects, including hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, fatty liver, obesity, and muscle wasting leading to severe metabolic dysfunction. Summarized below are the diverse metabolic roles of glucocorticoids in energy homeostasis and dysregulation, focusing specifically on glucose, lipid, and protein metabolism.

Keywords: Adipose tissue; Glucocorticoid hormones; Glucocorticoid receptor; Gluconeogenesis; Lipid metabolism; Liver; Muscle; Protein metabolism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Pancreas / metabolism
  • Proteins / metabolism


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Proteins
  • Glucose