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What is the Glucocorticoid Receptor?

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  • Written By: Alex Said
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2016
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The glucocorticoid receptor is a specific type of receptor found within the cells of the body that specific hormones can bind to in order to perform their function. The endocrine system is a major system within the body that is composed of numerous glands. These glands secrete hormones that perform a specific function, which in turn aids in the proper functioning of the body. These hormones, also known as glucocorticoids, bind to glucocorticoid receptors located within the cytoplasm of cells. Once these receptors are activated, the hormone can carry out specific activities.

These endocrine receptors have many functions within the body. Their importance is so great that they are found within the cytoplasm of almost every type of cell. A glucocorticoid receptor can play a direct role in the immune system as well as human development and metabolism. The diversity in their physical structures allows for these receptors to carry out many different functions. Their most important function has to do with reading and duplicating DNA strands for protein synthesis.

A glucocorticoid receptor binds to glucocorticoids within the bloodstream, which allows them to enter the intercellular fluid of a cell. Glucocotricoids are steroid hormones that carry out specific molecular functions. Examples of glucocotricoid hormones include cortisol and sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone.

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In a cell, glucocorticoid receptors will reside within the cytoplasm until glucocorticoid hormones are present. Once glucocorticoids enter the cell, the receptors are then transferred to the nucleus, where they perform specific functions depending on which glucocorticoid receptor was activated and which hormone was present. There are many different types of receptors and the structure of the receptor allows it to bind to specific glucocorticoids within the bloodstream. Hormone receptors are very specific, and they will only bind to the hormone that is structurally compatible.

These receptors are crucial for proper cellular functioning. Although they will bind specifically to a particular glucocorticoid hormone, there are other chemical compounds that can act as endocrine disruptors and bind to these glucocorticoid receptors as well. When this happens, they can either activate the receptor to perform its function or deactivate it — agonize it or antagonize it. The main reason why this happens is that these chemical compounds have similar structures to the hormones that the receptor binds to and trick it into thinking it is that particular hormone.

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