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September 1955

Effects of Adrenal Steroids on Resistance to Infection: Differences in the Relative Amounts of Corticosterone and Hydrocortisone Secreted and in Their Biologic Effects

Author Affiliations

Boston; Worcester, Mass.; Rochester, N. Y.; Philadelphia

From the Thorndike Memorial Laboratory, Second and Fourth Medical Services (Harvard), Boston City Hospital, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School (Drs. Kass and Mou); the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology (Dr. Hechter), and the Henry Phipps Institute, University of Pennsylvania (Dr. Lurie). Present address of Dr. Mou: Strong Memorial Hospital.

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1955;96(3):397-402. doi:10.1001/archinte.1955.00250140119013

The predominant adrenal steroids of all animal species that have been studied are hydrocortisone (17-hydroxycorticosterone, Cortisol, Kendall's Compound F) and corticosterone (Kendall's Compound B). The close association of these two steroids in different animal species has been studied extensively by Bush,1 who found that the ratios of hydrocortisone to corticosterone in the adrenal vein blood were different for different animal species (Table 1). The data with respect to man are as yet incomplete, but the evidence suggests that the human adrenal cortex secretes hydrocortisone predominantly.

Despite many similar metabolic effects of hydrocortisone and corticosterone, and the efficacy of either drug in the treatment of adrenocortical insufficiency, 2 hydrocortisone is active in the treatment of clinical inflammatory disorders but corticosterone is inactive at the same dosage levels in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.3

The comparative effects of corticosterone and hydrocortisone on some aspects of resistance to infection were studied in the