Prednisone is a synthetic corticosteroid drug that is usually taken orally but can be delivered by intramuscular injection and can be used for a great number of different conditions. It has a mainly glucocorticoid effect. Prednisone is a prodrug that is converted by the liver into prednisolone, which is the active drug and also a steroid.
Prednisone is particularly effective as an immunosuppressant
, and affects virtually all of the immune system. It can, therefore, be used in autoimmune
diseases, inflammatory diseases (such as severe asthma
, severe allergies
, severe poison ivy
dermatitis, systemic lupus erythematosus
, ulcerative colitis
, rheumatoid arthritis
, Bell's Palsy
, Crohn's disease
, various kidney diseases including nephrotic syndrome
[Epstein Barr virus], and to prevent and treat rejection
in organ transplantation
. This medicine may also reduce the sex drive. Prednisone has also been used in the treatment of migraine headaches and cluster headaches
and for severe Aphthous ulcer
Prednisone is used as an antitumor drug. Prednisone is very important in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, multiple myeloma, and other tumors in combination with other anticancer drugs
Furthermore, the pharmaceutical industry uses prednisone tablets for the calibration of dissolution testing equipment according to the United States Pharmacopeia (USP).
Intravenous application may be employed for cerebral inflammation, as in the periodic attacks caused by multiple sclerosis.
Prednisone is also used for the treatment of the Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction which is common during the treatment of syphilis, especially secondary syphilis, with antibiotic therapy
Prednisone was invented in the early 1950s when Arthur Nobile at Schering
, strep throat demonstrated that the side-effects of cortisone
, such as water retention, high blood pressure and muscle weakness, could be removed by oxidisation of the drug through exposure to microbes. The drug was introduced by Schering in the mid-1960s.
suppression occurs if prednisone is taken for longer than 7 days, a condition wherein the body is unable to synthesize natural corticosteroids and becomes dependent on the prednisone taken by the patient. For this reason, prednisone should not be stopped abruptly if taken for longer than seven days; rather the dosage must be reduced slowly. This reduction may be over a few days if the course of prednisone was short, but may take weeks or months if the patient had been on long-term treatment. Abrupt withdrawal may lead to an Addisonian crisis
, which may be life-threatening. For those on chronic therapy, alternate-day dosing may preserve adrenal function, thereby reducing side-effects.
Short-term side-effects, as with all glucocorticoids, include high blood glucose
levels, especially in patients that already have diabetes mellitus
or are on other medications that increase blood glucose (such as tacrolimus
), and mineralocorticoid
effects such as fluid retention (although it is worth noting, however, that the mineralocorticoid effects of prednisone are very minor; this is why it is not used in the management of adrenal insufficiency unless a more potent mineralocorticoid is administered concomitantly). Additional short-term side-effects include insomnia
, and, rarely, mania
. Long-term side-effects include Cushing's syndrome
, weight gain, osteoporosis
, type II diabetes mellitus
, and depression