Steroids are not only anabolic steroids and corticosteroids. In fact, a group of these substances includes many other hormones. Some can play a significant role in the human body, while others are weaker, their lack or excess leads to health problems. The list of steroid hormones is whopping.
Testosterone, Other Male Hormones (Androgens)
Testosterone is the main hormone of the male body. It is thanks to a testosterone that a concept of masculinity that is characterized by both external manifestations and behavior of male persons has been formed. From the age of 30, the concentration of this hormone in the male organism gradually but steadily decreases. Possible consequences of this process are known to all. Many men are interested in how to boost the level of testosterone naturally to achieve that manly physique.
Females who have excess levels of T acquire mannish features.
Testosterone belongs to the so-called androgen group. Other steroid androgenic substances are the following hormones:
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This is a biologically active form of testosterone, formed by the action of the enzyme 5α-reductas . Excess DHT leads to the prostate enlargement and an increased risk of prostate malignant tumors occurrence. A decreased or zero formation of dihydrotestosterone from testosterone is associated with weak sensitivity of tissues to testosterone. This leads to feminization (the development of female traits).
Androstenedione (androst-4-ene-3,17-dione, C19H26O2). It is a weak androgen which is a precursor for testosterone and some other hormones. Also, researchers believe that it has some estrogen-like action.
Androstenediol (androst-5-ene-3β,17β-diol, C19H30O2). It is also a weak androgen, which is the mediator in the synthesis of testosterone. The hormone has been researched as a radiation countermeasure. Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFRRI) and Hollis-Eden company were engaged in the development and research of the new medicine under the brand name Neumune. Clinical trials with rhesus macaques were roseate. However, the process was stopped by the HHS. In 2010, Stickney DR, Groothuis JR, Ahlem C, Kennedy M et al. (J Radiol Prot. 2010 Dec) reported that Neumune activates innate immunity and attenuate neutropenia and thrombocytopenia caused by ARS (acute radiation syndrome), but the preparation wasn’t approved.
Androsterone (3α-hydroxy-5α-androstan-17-one, C19H30O2). It belongs to both steroid & neurosteroid groups. It is also believed that it’s a pheromone.
Androstane (C19H32). This is a little-known steroid hormone with a gonane* core, which is supposed to have androgenic activity.
*Gonane (steran, cyclopentaperhydrophenanthrene) is a simplest steroid substance. The body uses it to build steroids and sterols.
Estradiol, Other Female Hormones
Estradiol is the most influential estrogenic substance. It ensures proper growth of genitalia and breasts, modulates menstrual cycles, regulates the egg’s development, etc. It is also important for the psychophysiological characteristics of sexual behavior. In women, estradiol features anabolic action, it helps muscles to increase in size when training in a gym.
In women, estradiol is synthesized in the membrane and granulosa cells of the follicles, to a lesser extent in the reticular zone of the adrenal cortex and during the peripheral transformation of testosterone. Normally, up to 90% of the estrogen in male persons is formed as a result of peripheral conversion of testosterone by aromatization.
Estrone is the second important estradiol after estradiol. Studies in which patients were given increased doses of this hormone showed that it led to the increased receptiveness of the breast, endometrial hyperplasia, increased lubrication in the vagina, etc.
Estriol is a secondary women sex hormone with non-pronounced action. Of the three natural estrogens of the human body, estriol has the shortest half-life and the lowest biological activity.
Males who have too high of estrogen levels develop womanly signs.
Progesterone — “Father” of Steroid Hormones
Progesterone is the precursor of other hormonal substances. From it, the main male hormone, cortisol, neurosteroids, and some other significant hormonal substances are synthesized.
Progesterone has a thoroughgoing role in ladies. It is responsible for the preparation of the woman’s internal organ for the forthcoming conception, the favorable attachment of the fertilized egg, the further course of pregnancy, and the full development of the fetus. It also performs important functions in men.
In scientific works and in practical medical settings, the terms progestin, progesterone & progestogen are sometimes used interchangeably, however, they are different substances/classes. Being structural analogs progesterone & progestin have diverse properties.
Other progestogens include the following hormonal substances:
- 16α-Hydroxyprogesterone (16α-OHP);
- 17α-Hydroxyprogesterone (17α-OHP) or hydroxyprogesterone (OHP);
- 20α-Dihydroprogesterone (20α-DHP) or 20α-hydroxyprogesterone (20α-OHP);
- 11-deoxycorticosterone (DOC) or deoxycorticosterone;
- 5α-Dihydrodeoxycorticosterone (DHDOC).
List of Corticosteroids
Corticosteroids are hormonal agents produced by the adrenal cortex. They regulate mineral metabolism and metabolism of carbs, proteins, and fats. Corticosteroids are divided into two main groups:
- Glucocorticoids. These are hormones that affect all kinds of metabolism: protein, fat and carb ones, have anti-inflammatory action, anti-allergic effect, suppress immunity, and take part in the regulation of arterial pressure. They include cortisol, cortisone, and corticosterone. These are the main hormones. Additional hormones include 11-Dehydrocorticosterone, 11-Deoxycortisol, and others.
- Mineralocorticoids. The key agent of this subclass is aldosterone. It is responsible for eliminating excessive potassium ions and chlorides via renal tubules and Na⁺ with fecal masses. Due to the influence on the salt/water balance, it helps to adjust BP levels. Deoxycorticosterone (desoxycortone) is a minor mineralocorticosteroid substance. It serves as a precursor for aldosterone.
Synthetic corticosteroid meds are commonly used in medicine to treat a wide range of diseases. They are capable of suppressing the inflammatory process for a while, but they do not have an effect on the infectious origin, the causative agents of the disease. After the corticosteroid drug’s effect ceases, the infection resumes. Eliminating inflammation corticosteroids have an analgesic effect. Corticosteroids are produced in the form of tablets, capsules, steroid injections, ointments, and steroid creams.
Neurosteroids — a Specific Class
Neuroactive steroids or neurosteroids are a class of endogenous steroids synthesized in the brain, adrenal glands, and organs of the reproductive system. They alter neuronal excitability via interaction with ligand-gated ion channels (LICs, LGIC) and other receptors. Neurosteroids have a neuroprotective effect (i.e. they protect nerve cells from various mutilations), regulate synapse functions, myelination processes of nerve fibers and apoptosis (programmed death) of nerve cells. Recent research shows that there are no neurosteroids in the brain of patients with multiple sclerosis. These substances include 3α, 5α-Androstanediol, 3α,5α-Dihydroprogesterone (5α-DHP; allopregnanedione), Allopregnanediol, Allopregnanolone, and others.