In broad terms, most steroids secreted by adrenal steroidogenic cells are glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, or sex hormone precursors. However, these classes have been established largely on the basis of differential actions in mammals. The principal glucocorticoids are cortisol and corticosterone, while the main mineralocorticoid is aldosterone. This division of action holds for mammalian species and likely for reptiles and birds. In other vertebrates, such as fish and amphibians, steroids from the interrenal tissue do not show such specialized actions; instead, most show activities of both glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid type. Mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians secrete cortisol, corticosterone, and aldosterone. The ratios of the two glucocorticoids vary across species; in general, corticosterone is the more important product in nonmammalian species. Even within mammals, a large variation exists across species, due to the relative ratio of cortisol to corticosterone from the adrenal cortex.
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