The principal medical use of cortisone comes from its anti-inflammatory and antiallergic effects; it is extremely useful in the treatment of innumerable diseases including asthma and other allergic reactions, arthritis, and various skin diseases. Cortisone is necessary to maintain life and enable the organism to respond to stress; failure of the adrenal glands to synthesize cortisone (Addison's disease) or surgical removal of the adrenals is fatal unless cortisone is given as replacement therapy. Although less cortisone is manufactured in the body than either cortisol or corticosterone and although cortisone is less potent than cortisol, the term cortisone is often used collectively to include the other glucocorticoids, both the naturally occurring and the synthetic compounds such as prednisone. Small quantities of cortisone were first isolated from animal adrenals in 1935–36. A method of manufacture, involving laboratory synthesis from an acid of bile, was developed, and in 1949 cortisone was first offered commercially. The specific mechanisms by which cortisone and similar compounds act are still poorly understood.
See T. Rooke, The Quest for Cortisone (2012).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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