Intracrine refers to a hormone that acts inside a cell, regulating intracellular events. Steroid hormones act through intracellular (mostly nuclear) receptors and, thus, may be considered to be intracrines. In contrast, peptide or protein hormones, in general, act as endocrines, autocrines, or paracrines by binding to their receptors present on the cell surface. Several peptide/protein hormones or their isoforms also act inside the cell through different mechanisms. These peptide/protein hormones, which have intracellular functions, are also called intracrines. The term 'intracrine' is thought to have been coined to represent peptide/protein hormones that also have intracellular actions.
The biological effects produced by intracellular actions are referred as intracrine effects, whereas those produced by binding to cell surface receptors are called endocrine, autocrine, or paracrine effects, depending on the origin of the hormone. The intracrine effect of some of the peptide/protein hormones are similar to their endocrine, autocrine, or paracrine effects; however, these effects are different for some other hormones.
Intracrine can also refer to a hormone acting within the cell that synthesizes it.
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