Digitalis-like compounds are recently identified steroids synthesized by the adrenal gland, which resemble the structure of plant cardiac glycosides. These compounds, like the plant steroids, bind to and inhibit the activity of the Na+, K+-ATPase. The possible function of the endogenous digitalis-like compounds has to be evaluated in view of the presence of different isoforms of the Na+, K+-ATPase, which differ in their sensitivity to digitalis. This review focuses on recent published data on the Na+, K+-ATPase inhibitors, the digitalis-like compounds, regarding their structure, biosynthesis and secretion from the adrenal gland, physiological role and pathological implications in diseases such as hypertension and depression. Emphasis is given to studies describing the involvement of these compounds in brain function.
- Digitalis-like compounds
- Na, K-ATPase