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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2009 Mar 25;301(1-2):123-31. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2008.09.031. Epub 2008 Oct 8.

The role and regulation of 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 in the inflammatory response.

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Endocrinology Unit, Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Edinburgh, 47 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 4TJ, UK.


Cortisone, a glucocorticoid hormone, was first used to treat rheumatoid arthritis in humans in the late 1940s, for which Hench, Reichstein and Kendall were awarded a Nobel Prize in 1950 and which led to the discovery of the anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids. To be effective, the intrinsically inert cortisone must be converted to the active glucocorticoid, cortisol, by the intracellular action of 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11beta-HSD1). Whilst orally administered cortisone is rapidly converted to the active hormone, cortisol, by first pass metabolism in the liver, recent work has highlighted an anti-inflammatory role for 11beta-HSD1 within specific tissues, including in leukocytes. Here, we review recent evidence pertaining to the anti-inflammatory role of 11beta-HSD1 and describe how inhibition of 11beta-HSD1, as widely proposed for treatment of metabolic disease, may impact upon inflammation. Finally, the mechanisms that regulate 11beta-HSD1 transcription will be discussed.

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