Corticosteroids can refer to the naturally occurring hormones produced by the adrenal cortex and the synthetic drugs that mimic these hormones. The endogenous (naturally occurring) hormones are released by the adrenal cortex after it is stimulated by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.
There are two main types of corticosteroids: glucocorticoids and meneralcorticoids.
Glucocorticoids (like cortisol and corticosterone) are responsible for blood pressure, cardiovascular functions, and the regulation of energy conversion from food.
The mineralcorticoids (like aldosterone) are responsible for immune system responses and the suppression of inflammation. Synthetic corticosteriods (like cortisone, hydrocortisone, and prednisone) are a class of drugs that mimic the effects of the naturally occurring corticosteroids. They are used to treat autoimmune disorders like lupus by suppressing the immune system and inflammation issues like asthma, arthritis, and muscular injuries.
Synthetic corticosteroids are also used to treat Addison's disease which is when the adrenal glands don't produce enough natural corticosteroids.