AskDefine | Define prednisone

Dictionary Definition

prednisone n : a dehydrogenated analogue of cortisol (trade names Orasone or Deltasone or Liquid Pred or Meticorten); used as an anti-inflammatory drug in the treatment of arthritis and as an immunosuppressant [syn: Orasone, Deltasone, Liquid Pred, Meticorten]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A synthetic corticosteroid used to treat a large number of conditions.

Extensive Definition

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, pemphigus and sarcoidosis), various kidney diseases including nephrotic syndrome, 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.
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 period attacks caused by multiple sclerosis.


Prednisone was invented in the early 1950s when Arthur Nobile at Schering 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.


Adrenal 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 (see "Dosing Considerations").


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, euphoria, and, rarely, mania. Long-term side-effects include Cushing's syndrome, weight gain, osteoporosis, glaucoma, type II diabetes mellitus, and depression upon withdrawal.
prednisone in German: Prednison
prednisone in Spanish: Prednisona
prednisone in French: Prednisone
prednisone in Italian: Prednisone
prednisone in Hebrew: פרדניזון
prednisone in Dutch: Prednison
prednisone in Norwegian: Prednisolon
prednisone in Polish: Prednizon
prednisone in Slovak: Prednizón
prednisone in Turkish: Prednisone
prednisone in Chinese: 强的松
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