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January 13, 1951


JAMA. 1951;145(2):92. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.02920200032014

The now often quoted opinion that pituitary adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisone do not cure anything are probably correct according to Hench.1 Investigators so far have failed to explain how these substances work. Hench stresses that both agents affect not the cause of a disease but the reaction of the tissue to the irritant or the cause. The dominant influence, as he sees it, is on the pathologicophysiological changes or the disease itself rather than on the pathologicoanatomic changes or on the causative factor of these conditions.

In a recent symposium Hench emphasized that what is striking about these two hormonal substances is that they are the first natural agents by means of which it has been possible to demonstrate the potential reversibility of several diseases, especially rheumatoid arthritis. This remarkable, although temporary, effect was observed in rheumatic fever, acute rheumatic carditis, disseminated lupus erythematosus and certain allergic conditions.