The review considers the data on the physiological and pharmacological effects of glucocorticoids on
the gastric mucosa and focuses on the gastroprotective role of stress-produced glucocorticoids as well as on the
transformation of physiological gastroprotective effects of glucocorticoids to pathological proulcerogenic consequences.
The results of experimental studies on the re-evaluation of the traditional notion that stress-produced
glucocorticoids are ulcerogenic led us to the opposite conclusion suggested that these hormones play an important
role in the maintenance of the gastric mucosal integrity. Exogenous glucocorticoids may exert both gastroprotective
and proulcerogenic effects. Initially, gastroprotective effect of dexamethasone but not corticosterone, cortisol
or prednisolone can be transformed into proulcerogenic one. The most significant factor for the transformation is
the prolongation of its action rather the dose. Gastrointestinal injury can be accompanied by changes in somatic
pain sensitivity and glucocorticoids contribute to these changes playing a physiological and pathological role.
Keywords: Stress, glucocorticoids, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis, gastric mucosa, erosion, ulcer, gastroprotective effect, ulcerogenic
effect, somatic pain, mechanisms of transformation.
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