Steroid hormone secreted in the adrenal cortex that targets adipose (fat), muscle tissue and the liver. Also known as hydrocortisone, cortisol is one of several glucocorticoids. It stimulates the transfer of amino acids from muscles to the liver and fatty acids from adipose cells to the liver. The fatty acids and amino acids released are used in gluconeogenesis (synthesis of glucose from sources besides carbohydrates).

Glucocorticoids also have anti-inflammatory action which has resulted in widespread clinical applications.