Papers And Originals

Recovery of Adrenocortical Function during Long-term Treatment with Corticosteroids

Br Med J 1970; 4 doi: (Published 28 November 1970) Cite this as: Br Med J 1970;4:534
  1. L. Westerhof,
  2. M. J. Van Ditmars,
  3. P. J. Der Kinderen,
  4. J. H. H. Thijssen,
  5. F. Schwarz


    The recovery of adrenocortical function during very slow withdrawal of corticosteroids was studied in a homogeneous group of patients suffering from sarcoidosis. All patients had been treated with gradually decreasing doses of prednisone for at least two years. The initial dose had been 40 mg. daily in all cases. Determination of the cortisol production rate and of plasma fluorogenic corticosteroids was done under basal conditions and after tetracosactrin stimulation. There was good correlation between cortisol production rate and plasma fluorogenic corticosteroids throughout all the tests. Cortisol production rate and plasma fluorogenic corticosteroids started to rise when the dosage of prednisone was lowered to 7·5 mg. daily and reached normal values when the dosage was reduced to 2·5 mg. The response to tetracosactrin began to increase at the same dosage level, but was not normal at 2·5 mg., or when prednisone treatment was stopped. At a dosage level of 7·5 mg. of prednisone plasma fluorogenic corticosteroids already showed a nyctohemeral rhythm.

    It may be calculated that even very low dosages of prednisone given during the last stage of a treatment schedule enhance total corticosteroid activity beyond the normal level, which would account for their therapeutic value.