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Possible roles for steroid hormone—binding proteins include aiding in tissue delivery of steroids by providing an even distribution to all cells within a target tissue, buffering against large fluctuations in free hormone, and prolonging the half-life of steroids in blood.
Steroid hormones act on target cells via receptors located in the cell interior. These receptors are generally found in the nucleus, although some appear to reside, when unoccupied, in the cytoplasm. There are several classes of steroid receptors—those for glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, progestins, etc. Steroid receptors comprise a family of related proteins that also show homology to receptors for the thyroid hormones and vitamin D. The receptor has regions or domains that carry out specific tasks: Steroid hormones enter targets by diffusing through the cell membrane and then binding to the receptor, causing a conformational change in the new complex.
This, in turn, leads to release of associated proteins eg, heat-shock proteins and movement to the nucleus if necessary , followed by binding of the complex to regions of DNA located near specific steroid-regulated genes.
The result is a change in the rate of transcription of specific genes, either increasing or decreasing their expression. Thus, steroid hormones primarily function by affecting the production rates of specific messenger RNA and proteins in targets. Steroid action is relatively slow in onset hours but may be long lasting because of the duration of production and half-lives of the messenger RNA and proteins induced in target cells.
It is increasingly clear that some steroids also act via nongenomic mechanisms. For example, many of the anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids are thought to be due to the glucocorticoid-receptor complex binding to, and inhibiting the action of, pro-inflammatory transcription factors inside cells. Steroids in the blood are eliminated by metabolism in the liver. Reduced forms are produced and subsequently conjugated to glucuronic acid and sulfate.
These metabolites are freely soluble in blood and are eliminated from the body by renal excretion and through the GI tract. Small amounts of free steroid hormone are also directly excreted by the kidneys. This class of hormones is made by chemical modification of amino acids, mainly tyrosine. They include thyroid hormones and the catecholamines epinephrine and norepinephrine. Thyroxine T 4 and triiodothyronine T 3 are stored in the thyroid as a part of thyroglobulin; secretion of these hormones involves thyroidal cell uptake and breakdown of this large molecule liberating T 4 and T 3.
Estrogen may play an important role in preventing heart disease in men. Younger men generally have higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of estrogen. With aging, estrogen levels often increase and testosterone levels decrease.
This can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, prostate enlargement, and prostate cancer in older men. Continue Learning about Endocrine System Endocrine System Your endocrine system works with your nervous system to control important bodily functions. Learn more about Endocrine System.
Birth Control Choices for Women. What hormones do the ovaries produce?