Because steroids are lipophilic, they diffuse easily through the cell membranes, and therefore have a very large distribution volume. In their target tissues, steroids are concentrated by an uptake mechanism which relies on their binding to intracellular proteins (or " receptors ", see below). High concentration of steroids are also found in adipose tissue, although this is not a target for hormone action. In the human male, adipose tissue contains aromatase activity, and seems to be the main source of androgen-derived estrogens found in the circulation. But most of the peripheral metabolism occurs in the liver and to some extent in the kidneys, which are the major sites of hormone inactivation and elimination, or catabolism (see below).
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Sometimes tumors on the pituitary or adrenal glands can contribute to a condition known as Cushing syndrome , which is characterized by high levels of cortisol in the blood. Individuals with Cushing syndrome will experience rapid weight gain in the face, abdomen, and chest. Often doctors will notice this because of the individual's slender arms and legs compared to the heavy weight in the core of the body. Cushing syndrome also causes a flushed face, high blood pressure, and changes in the skin. Osteoporosis and mood swings are also a factor considered with Cushing disease.