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Steroid hormones are recognized as producing their major long-term effects on cell
structure and function via intracellular receptors acting on the expression of genes.
There is now increasing evidence that steroids also affect the surface of cells and
alter ion permeability, as well as release of neurohormones and neurotransmitters.
Progesterone appears to be one of the most active of the steroids, and its naturally
produced metabolites and some synthetic analogs show activities that are different
from the parent steroid. Other steroids, such as estrogens and adrenal steroids and
their naturally produced and synthetic analogs, also show membrane effects. Bruce
McEwen reviews evidence that synergistic interactions occur between non-genomic and
genomic actions of steroids.