Glucocorticoid Induced Hypothalamic-Pituitary Axis Alterations Associated
with Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism
The existence of the adrenal hormone cortisol was first postulated by Phillip
Hench and Edward Kendall in 1930. Using a combination of clinical conjectures
and 3,000 lbs. of animal adrenal gland tissue,
they believed there existed a substance that was
produced in biological species in response to physiological stress.
By 1940 Kendall had isolated cortisol and dubbed it “substance E”,
as had Tadeus Reichstein-Kendall’s competitor working simultaneously in Switzerland.
The two joined forces thanks to Merck &
Company as rumor had it that the Nazi’s were secretly shipping
tons of bovine adrenal tissue from Argentina via submarines and
looking to militarize adrenal hormones to optimize their pilots and soldiers.
In 1941 The United States government and National
Research Council prioritized the production of stress hormones
ahead of penicillin development and antimalarial research.
By 1948 Merck Pharmaceutical Company had invested $13 million
dollars ($130 million adjusted for inflation in 2016) in “substance E”
and had neither military nor clinical applications until September 1948.
Hench and Kendall requested Merck to give them 5 grams of
substance E to salvage their project. Hench and Kendall decided
to give 50 mg intramuscular injection of “substance E” to a patient
suffering from rheumatoid arthritis at Mayo Clinic in Rochester,
Minnesota known as Mrs. G. Initially bedridden due to pain, by
the seventh day of treatment Mrs. G was shopping in downtown
Rochester claiming, “I have never felt better in my life”.
Osteol Rheumatol Open J. 2019; 1(1): 30-34. doi: 10.17140/ORHOJ-1-109