Regulation of gluconeogenesis by glucocorticoids

Monogr Endocrinol. 1979;12:535-46. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-81265-1_28.


1. Regulation of gluconeogenic substrate supply and modulation of the gluconeogenic pathway in the liver are both important in the control of gluconeogenesis by glucocorticoids. 2. Adrenal deficiency decreases the release of gluconeogenic and other amino acids from skeletal muscle during starvation. The effect is reversed by glucocorticoid replacement. The changes in amino acid release are accompanied by similar alterations in tissue amino acid levels and are not explained by alterations in net protein breakdown. Glucocorticoids do not alter protein catabolism and cause a small inhibition of protein synthesis. The biochemical alterations underlying the changes in amino acid metabolism induced by these steroids remain to be elucidated. Glucocorticoids may also regulate the supply of gluconeogenic substrates through permissive effects on the lipolytic action of catecholamines and other hormones in adipose tissue and on the glycogenolytic action of catecholamines on skeletal muscle. 3. Glucocorticoids are required for the increases in gluconeogenesis in starvation and diabetes. Part of their action is exerted directly on the liver and appears to involve modulation of P-enlopyruvate carboxykinase levels. Glucocorticoids increase the synthesis of this enzyme apparently through effects at the level of transcription. 4. Glucocorticoids exert permissive effects on the stimulation of gluconeogenesis in the liver by glucagon and epinephrine. The steroids are not required for cAMP generation or protein kinase activation by these hormones, but appear to act by maintaining the responsiveness of certain enzymes to the effects of the cAMP and alpha-adrenergic systems. It is proposed that this involves the maintenance of a normal intracellular ionic environment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenalectomy
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism
  • Epinephrine / pharmacology
  • Glucagon / pharmacology
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • Gluconeogenesis / drug effects*
  • Hydrocortisone / pharmacology
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Rats


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Glucagon
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Epinephrine