Although named for their critical role in maintaining carbohydrate reserves, glucocorticoids produce diverse physiologic actions, many of which are still not well understood and therefore can be considered only pheno-menologically. Virtually every tissue of the body is affected by an excess or deficiency of glucocorticoids (Table 1). If any simple phrase could be used to describe the role of glucocorticoids, it would be ''coping with adversity.''
Ability to maintain and draw on metabolic fuel reserves is ensured by the actions and interactions of many hormones and is critically dependent on normal function of the adrenal cortex (Fig. 12). Although we speak of maintaining carbohydrate reserves as the hallmark of glucocorticoid activity, it must be understood that metabolism of carbohydrate, protein, and lipid are inseparable components of overall energy balance. This complex topic is considered further in Chapter 42.
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