Narrator: This is Science Today. The adrenal
glands produce about one hundred different steroid
hormones, including one called cortisol. This stress-resisting
hormone raises blood sugar, resists shock and fights
infection. Dr. Owen Wolkowitz, a professor of psychiatry
at the University of California, San Francisco, says
it's also by far the most common type of steroid hormone
That's because cortisol turned out to have very good
anti-inflammatory effects back in the late 1940s,
early 1950s and that led to the development of prednisone
and drugs like that.
Narrator: High levels of cortisol are also
associated with major depression, but it's probably
not the only steroid hormone related to depression.
Wolkowitz is also looking into DHEA for some therapeutic
Wolkowitz: Part of the reasoning there is that
DHEA actually has some anti-cortisol effects of it's
own. So it may well be it's not only high cortisol
or low DHEA, but it might be the ratio between them
that might be important and that's not even considering
the other 98 or so other steroids that we have yet
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.