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Clinical data
Trade names Deltasone, Liquid Pred, Orasone, Adasone, others
AHFS/ Monograph
MedlinePlus a601102
  • AU: A
  • US: C (Risk not ruled out)
    Routes of
    By mouth
    ATC code
    Legal status
    Legal status
    Pharmacokinetic data
    Bioavailability 70%
    Metabolism prednisolone (liver)
    Elimination half-life 3 to 4 hours in adults. 1 to 2 hours in children [1]
    Excretion Renal
    CAS Number
    PubChem CID
    CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
    ECHA InfoCard 100.000.147 OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
    Chemical and physical data
    Formula C21H26O5
    Molar mass 358.428 g/mol g·mol−1
    3D model (JSmol)
    Melting point 230 °C (446 °F)
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    Prednisone is a glucocorticoid medication mostly used to suppress the immune system and decrease inflammation in conditions such as asthma, COPD, and rheumatologic diseases. [2] It is also used to treat high blood calcium due to cancer and adrenal insufficiency along with other steroids. [2] It is taken by mouth. [2]

    Glucocorticoid class of corticosteroids

    Glucocorticoids are a class of corticosteroids, which are a class of steroid hormones. Glucocorticoids are corticosteroids that bind to the glucocorticoid receptor that is present in almost every vertebrate animal cell. The name "glucocorticoid" is a portmanteau and is composed from its role in regulation of glucose metabolism, synthesis in the adrenal cortex, and its steroidal structure. A less common synonym is glucocorticosteroid.

    Immunosuppressive drug Agents that suppress immune function by one of several mechanisms of action. Classical cytotoxic immunosuppressants act by inhibiting dna synthesis. Others may act through activation of t-cells or by inhibiting the activation of helper cells. While

    Immunosuppressive drugs or immunosuppressive agents or antirejection medications are drugs that inhibit or prevent activity of the immune system.

    Inflammation signs of activation of the immune system

    Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants, and is a protective response involving immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. The function of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and initiate tissue repair.


    Common side effects with long term use include cataracts, bone loss, easy bruising, muscle weakness, and thrush. [2] Other side effects include weight gain, swelling, high blood sugar, increased risk of infection, and psychosis. [3] [2] It is generally considered safe in pregnancy and low doses appear to be safe when breastfeeding. [4] After prolonged use, prednisone needs to be stopped gradually. [2]

    Osteoporosis bone resorption disease characterized by decreased density of normally mineralized bone which results in the thinning of bone tissue and decreased mechanical strength

    Osteoporosis is a disease in which bone weakening increases the risk of a broken bone. It is the most common reason for a broken bone among the elderly. Bones that commonly break include the vertebrae in the spine, the bones of the forearm, and the hip. Until a broken bone occurs there are typically no symptoms. Bones may weaken to such a degree that a break may occur with minor stress or spontaneously. Chronic pain and a decreased ability to carry out normal activities may occur following a broken bone.

    Oral candidiasis candidiasis that involves fungal infection of the mucous membrane of the mouth by Candida species, which is characterized by thick white or cream-colored deposits on inflamed mucosal membranes

    Oral candidiasis, also known as oral thrush among other names, is candidiasis that occurs in the mouth. That is, oral candidiasis is a mycosis of Candida species on the mucous membranes of the mouth.

    Psychosis abnormal condition of the mind that involves a loss of contact with reality

    Psychosis is an abnormal condition of the mind that results in difficulties determining what is real and what is not. Symptoms may include false beliefs (delusions) and seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear (hallucinations). Other symptoms may include incoherent speech and behavior that is inappropriate for the situation. There may also be sleep problems, social withdrawal, lack of motivation, and difficulties carrying out daily activities.

    Prednisone must be converted to prednisolone by the liver before it becomes active. [5] [6] Prednisolone then binds to glucocorticoid receptors, activating them and triggering changes in gene expression. [3]

    Prednisolone chemical compound

    Prednisolone is a steroid medication used to treat certain types of allergies, inflammatory conditions, autoimmune disorders, and cancers. Some of these conditions include adrenocortical insufficiency, high blood calcium, rheumatoid arthritis, dermatitis, eye inflammation, asthma, and multiple sclerosis. It is used by mouth, injection into a vein, as a skin cream, and as eye drops.

    Glucocorticoid receptor protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

    The glucocorticoid receptor also known as NR3C1 is the receptor to which cortisol and other glucocorticoids bind.

    Gene expression conversion of a genes sequence into a mature gene product or products

    Gene expression is the process by which information from a gene is used in the synthesis of a functional gene product. These products are often proteins, but in non-protein coding genes such as transfer RNA (tRNA) or small nuclear RNA (snRNA) genes, the product is a functional RNA.

    Prednisone was patented in 1954 and approved for medical use in the United States in 1955. [2] [7] It is available as a generic medication. [2] In the United States, the wholesale cost per dose was less than US$0.30 in 2018. [8] In 2016, it was the 31st most prescribed medication in the United States, with more than 23 million prescriptions. [9]

    Medical uses

    Prednisone is used for many different autoimmune diseases and inflammatory conditions, including asthma, COPD, CIDP, rheumatic disorders, allergic disorders, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, adrenocortical insufficiency, hypercalcemia due to cancer, thyroiditis, laryngitis, severe tuberculosis, hives, lipid pneumonitis, pericarditis, multiple sclerosis, nephrotic syndrome, sarcoidosis, to relieve the effects of shingles, lupus, myasthenia gravis, poison oak exposure, Ménière's disease, autoimmune hepatitis, giant-cell arteritis, the Herxheimer reaction that is common during the treatment of syphilis, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, uveitis, and as part of a drug regimen to prevent rejection after organ transplant. [10] [11] [12]

    Autoimmune disease Human disease

    An autoimmune disease is a condition arising from an abnormal immune response to a normal body part. There are at least 80 types of autoimmune diseases. Nearly any body part can be involved. Common symptoms include low grade fever and feeling tired. Often symptoms come and go.

    Asthma long-term disease involving poor airflow in the lungs

    Asthma is a common long-term inflammatory disease of the airways of the lungs. It is characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and easily triggered bronchospasms. Symptoms include episodes of wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. These may occur a few times a day or a few times per week. Depending on the person, they may become worse at night or with exercise.

    Ulcerative colitis Inflammatory bowel disease that causes ulcers in the colon

    Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a long-term condition that results in inflammation and ulcers of the colon and rectum. The primary symptoms of active disease are abdominal pain and diarrhea mixed with blood. Weight loss, fever, and anemia may also occur. Often, symptoms come on slowly and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms typically occur intermittently with periods of no symptoms between flares. Complications may include megacolon, inflammation of the eye, joints, or liver, and colon cancer.

    Prednisone has also been used in the treatment of migraine headaches and cluster headaches and for severe aphthous ulcer. [13] Prednisone is used as an antitumor drug. [14] It is important in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphomas, Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and other hormone-sensitive tumors, in combination with other anticancer drugs.

    Migraine brain disease characterized by recurrent headaches on one side

    A migraine is a primary headache disorder characterized by recurrent headaches that are moderate to severe. Typically, the headaches affect one half of the head, are pulsating in nature, and last from a few hours to 3 days. Associated symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, or smell. The pain is generally made worse by physical activity. Up to one-third of people have an aura: typically a short period of visual disturbance that signals that the headache will soon occur. Occasionally, an aura can occur with little or no headache following it.

    Cluster headache

    Cluster headache (CH) is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent severe headaches on one side of the head, typically around the eye. There is often accompanying eye watering, nasal congestion, or swelling around the eye on the affected side. These symptoms typically last 15 minutes to 3 hours. Attacks often occur in clusters which typically last for weeks or months and occasionally more than a year.

    Acute lymphoblastic leukemia leukemia that is characterized by over production of lymphoblasts.

    Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the lymphoid line of blood cells characterized by the development of large numbers of immature lymphocytes. Symptoms may include feeling tired, pale skin color, fever, easy bleeding or bruising, enlarged lymph nodes, or bone pain. As an acute leukemia, ALL progresses rapidly and is typically fatal within weeks or months if left untreated.

    Prednisone can be used in the treatment of decompensated heart failure to increase renal responsiveness to diuretics, especially in heart failure patients with refractory diuretic resistance with large dose of loop diuretics. [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] In terms of the mechanism of action for this purpose: prednisone, a glucocorticoid, can improve renal responsiveness to atrial natriuretic peptide by increasing the density of natriuretic peptide receptor type A in the renal inner medullary collecting duct, inducing a potent diuresis. [21]

    At high doses it may be used to prevent rejection following organ transplant. [2]

    Side effects

    Micrograph of fatty liver, as may be seen due to long-term prednisone use. Trichrome stain. Periportal hepatosteatosis intermed mag.jpg
    Micrograph of fatty liver, as may be seen due to long-term prednisone use. Trichrome stain.

    Short-term side effects, as with all glucocorticoids, include high blood glucose levels (especially in patients with diabetes mellitus or on other medications that increase blood glucose, such as tacrolimus) and mineralocorticoid effects such as fluid retention. [22] The mineralocorticoid effects of prednisone are minor, which is why it is not used in the management of adrenal insufficiency, unless a more potent mineralocorticoid is administered concomitantly.

    It can also cause depression or depressive symptoms and anxiety in some individuals. [23] [24]

    Long-term side effects include Cushing's syndrome, steroid dementia syndrome, [25] truncal weight gain, osteoporosis, glaucoma and cataracts, diabetes mellitus type 2, and depression upon dose reduction or cessation. [26] Prednisone also results in leukocytosis. [27]






    Adrenal suppression will begin to occur if prednisone is taken for longer than seven days. Eventually, this may cause the body to temporarily lose the ability to manufacture natural corticosteroids (especially cortisol), which results in dependence on prednisone. For this reason, prednisone should not be abruptly stopped if taken for more than seven days; instead, the dosage should be gradually reduced. This weaning process may be over a few days if the course of prednisone was short, but may take weeks or months [29] if the patient had been on long-term treatment. Abrupt withdrawal may lead to an Addison crisis. For those on chronic therapy, alternate-day dosing may preserve adrenal function and thereby reduce side effects. [30]

    Glucocorticoids act to inhibit feedback of both the hypothalamus, decreasing corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), and corticotrophs in the anterior pituitary gland, decreasing the amount of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). For this reason, glucocorticoid analogue drugs such as prednisone down-regulate the natural synthesis of glucocorticoids. This mechanism leads to dependence in a short time and can be dangerous if medications are withdrawn too quickly. The body must have time to begin synthesis of CRH and ACTH and for the adrenal glands to begin functioning normally again.

    Prednisone may start to result in the suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis if used at doses 7–10 mg or higher for several weeks. This is approximately equal to the amount of endogenous cortisol produced by the body every day. As such, the HPA axis starts to become suppressed and atrophy. If this occurs the people should be tapered off prednisone slowly to give the adrenal gland enough time to regain its function and endogenous production of steroids. Supplemental doses, or "stress doses" may be required in those with HPA axis suppression who are experiencing a higher degree of stress (e.g., illness, surgery, trauma, etc.). Failing to do so in such situations could be life-threatening.[ citation needed ]


    The magnitude and speed of dose reduction in corticosteroid withdrawal should be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the underlying condition being treated, and individual patient factors such as the likelihood of relapse and the duration of corticosteroid treatment. Gradual withdrawal of systemic corticosteroids should be considered in those whose disease is unlikely to relapse and have:

    Systemic corticosteroids may be stopped abruptly in those whose disease is unlikely to relapse and who have received treatment for 3 weeks or less and who are not included in the patient groups described above.

    During corticosteroid withdrawal, the dose may be reduced rapidly down to physiological doses (equivalent to prednisolone 7.5 mg daily) and then reduced more slowly. Assessment of the disease may be needed during withdrawal to ensure that relapse does not occur. [31]


    Prednisone is a synthetic glucocorticoid used for its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties. [32] [33] Prednisone is a prodrug; it is metabolised in the liver by 11-β-HSD to prednisolone, the active drug. Prednisone has no substantial biological effects until converted via hepatic metabolism to prednisolone. [34]


    Prednisone is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and has a half life of 2–3 hours. [33] it has a volume of distribution of 0.4–1 L/kg. [35] The drug is cleared by hepatic metabolism using cytochrome P450 enzymes. Metabolites are excreted in the bile and urine. [35]


    Prednisone 20 mg oral tablet 006035339lg Prednisone 20 MG Oral Tablet.jpg
    Prednisone 20 mg oral tablet

    The pharmaceutical industry uses prednisone tablets for the calibration of dissolution testing equipment according to the United States Pharmacopeia (USP).


    Prednisone is a synthetic pregnane corticosteroid and derivative of cortisone and is also known as δ1-cortisone or 1,2-dehydrocortisone or as 17α,21-dihydroxypregna-1,4-diene-3,11,20-trione. [36] [37]


    The first isolation and structure identifications of prednisone and prednisolone were done in 1950 by Arthur Nobile. [38] [39] [40] The first commercially feasible synthesis of prednisone was carried out in 1955 in the laboratories of Schering Corporation, which later became Schering-Plough Corporation, by Arthur Nobile and coworkers. [41] They discovered that cortisone could be microbiologically oxidized to prednisone by the bacterium Corynebacterium simplex. The same process was used to prepare prednisolone from hydrocortisone. [42]

    The enhanced adrenocorticoid activity of these compounds over cortisone and hydrocortisone was demonstrated in mice. [42]

    Prednisone and prednisolone were introduced in 1955 by Schering and Upjohn, under the brand names Meticorten [43] and Delta-Cortef, [44] respectively. These prescription medicines are now available from a number of manufacturers as generic drugs.

    See also

    Related Research Articles

    Adrenal gland Bjbhujjiendocrine gland that produces a variety of hormones

    The adrenal glands are endocrine glands that produce a variety of hormones including adrenaline and the steroids aldosterone and cortisol. They are found above the kidneys. Each gland has an outer cortex which produces steroid hormones and an inner medulla. The adrenal cortex itself is divided into three zones: the zona glomerulosa, the zona fasciculata and the zona reticularis.

    Corticosteroid steroid hormone

    Corticosteroids are a class of steroid hormones that are produced in the adrenal cortex of vertebrates, as well as the synthetic analogues of these hormones. Two main classes of corticosteroids, glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids, are involved in a wide range of physiological processes, including stress response, immune response, and regulation of inflammation, carbohydrate metabolism, protein catabolism, blood electrolyte levels, and behavior.

    Cortisone one of the main hormones released by the adrenal gland in response to stress

    Cortisone is a pregnane (21-carbon) steroid hormone. It is one of the main hormones released by the adrenal gland in response to stress. In chemical structure, it is a corticosteroid closely related to cortisol. It is used to treat a variety of ailments and can be administered intravenously, orally, intra-articularly, or transcutaneously. Cortisone suppresses the immune system, thus reducing inflammation and attendant pain and swelling at the site of the injury. Risks exist, in particular in the long-term use of cortisone.

    Dexamethasone chemical compound

    Dexamethasone is a type of corticosteroid medication. It is used in the treatment of many conditions, including rheumatic problems, a number of skin diseases, severe allergies, asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease, croup, brain swelling, and along with antibiotics in tuberculosis. In adrenocortical insufficiency, it should be used together with a medication that has greater mineralocorticoid effects such as fludrocortisone. In preterm labor, it may be used to improve outcomes in the baby. It may be taken by mouth, as an injection into a muscle, or intravenously. The effects of dexamethasone are frequently seen within a day and last for about three days.

    Furosemide medication used to treat fluid build-up due to heart failure, liver scarring, or kidney disease.

    Furosemide, sold under the brand name Lasix among others, is a medication used to treat fluid build-up due to heart failure, liver scarring, or kidney disease. It may also be used for the treatment of high blood pressure. It can be taken by injection into a vein or by mouth. When taken by mouth, it typically begins working within an hour, while intravenously, it typically begins working within five minutes.

    Adrenal insufficiency human disease

    Adrenal insufficiency is a condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce adequate amounts of steroid hormones, primarily cortisol; but may also include impaired production of aldosterone, which regulates sodium conservation, potassium secretion, and water retention. Craving for salt or salty foods due to the urinary losses of sodium is common.

    Fludrocortisone chemical compound

    Fludrocortisone, sold under the brand name Florinef among others, is a corticosteroid which is used to treat adrenogenital syndrome, postural hypotension, and adrenal insufficiency. In adrenal insufficiency it is generally taken together with hydrocortisone. It is taken by mouth. The medication is most commonly used in its acetate form.

    Hypereosinophilic syndrome is a disease characterized by a persistently elevated eosinophil count in the blood for at least six months without any recognizable cause, with involvement of either the heart, nervous system, or bone marrow.

    Loop diuretic

    Loop diuretics are diuretics that act at the ascending limb of the loop of Henle in the kidney. They are primarily used in medicine to treat hypertension and edema often due to congestive heart failure or renal insufficiency. While thiazide diuretics are more effective in patients with normal kidney function, loop diuretics are more effective in patients with impaired kidney function.

    Methylprednisolone Corticosteroid medication

    Methylprednisolone, sold under the brand names Depo-Medrol and Solu-Medrol among others, is a corticosteroid medication used to suppress the immune system and decrease inflammation. Conditions in which it is used include skin diseases, rheumatic disorders, allergies, asthma, croup, COPD, certain cancers, multiple sclerosis, and as add-on therapy for tuberculosis. It is given by mouth, by injection into a vein or muscle, or applied to the skin.

    Fluticasone propionate chemical compound

    Fluticasone propionate, sold under the brand names Flovent and Flonase among others, is a steroid medication. When inhaled it is used for the long term management of asthma and COPD. In the nose it is used for hay fever and nasal polyps.

    11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase enzyme

    11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD-11β or 11β-HSD) is a family of enzymes that catalyze the conversion of inert 11 keto-products (cortisone) to active cortisol, or vice versa, thus regulating the access of glucocorticoids to the steroid receptors:


    An antimineralocorticoid, MCRA, or an aldosterone antagonist, is a diuretic drug which antagonizes the action of aldosterone at mineralocorticoid receptors. This group of drugs is often used as adjunctive therapy, in combination with other drugs, for the management of chronic heart failure. Spironolactone, the first member of the class, is also used in the management of hyperaldosteronism and female hirsutism. Most antimineralocorticoids, including spironolactone, are steroidal spirolactones. Finerenone is a nonsteroidal antimineralocorticoid.

    Steroid-induced osteoporosis is osteoporosis arising due to use of glucocorticoids - analogous to Cushing's syndrome and involving mainly the axial skeleton. The synthetic glucocorticoid prescription drug prednisone is a main candidate after prolonged intake. Bisphosphonates are beneficial in reducing the risk of vertebral fractures. Some professional guidelines recommend prophylactic calcium and vitamin D supplementation in patients who take the equivalent of more than 30 mg hydrocortisone, especially when this is in excess of three months. The use of thiazide diuretics, and gonadal hormone replacement has also been recommended, with the use of calcitonin, bisphosphonates, sodium fluoride or anabolic steroids also suggested in refractory cases. Alternate day use may not prevent this complication.

    Critical illness-related corticosteroid insufficiency is a form of adrenal insufficiency in critically ill patients who have blood corticosteroid levels which are inadequate for the severe stress response they experience. Combined with decreased glucocorticoid receptor sensitivity and tissue response to corticosteroids, this adrenal insufficiency constitutes a negative prognostic factor for intensive care patients.

    Management of heart failure requires a multimodal approach. It involves a combination of lifestyle modifications, medications, and possibly the use of devices or surgery.

    Cardiorenal syndrome (CRS) is an umbrella term used in the medical field that defines disorders of the heart and kidneys whereby “acute or chronic dysfunction in one organ may induce acute or chronic dysfunction of the other”. The heart and the kidneys are involved in maintaining hemodynamic stability and organ perfusion through an intricate network. These two organs communicate with one another through a variety of pathways in an interdependent relationship. In a 2004 report from National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, CRS was defined as a condition where treatment of congestive heart failure is limited by decline in kidney function. This definition has since been challenged repeatedly but there still remains little consensus over a universally accepted definition for CRS. At a consensus conference of the Acute Dialysis Quality Initiative (ADQI), the CRS was classified into five subtypes primarily based upon the organ that initiated the insult as well as the acuity of disease.

    Steroid dementia syndrome describes the signs and symptoms of hippocampal and prefrontal cortical dysfunction, such as deficits in memory, attention, and executive function, induced by glucocorticoids. Dementia-like symptoms have been found in some individuals who have been exposed to glucocorticoid medication, often dispensed in the form of asthma, arthritis, and anti-inflammatory steroid medications. The condition reverses, but not always completely, within months after steroid treatment is stopped.


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