The past decade has shown astonishing advancement in the young science of endocrinology. New hormones are synthesized almost as rapidly as new uses for hormone therapy emerge. The net effect is a mass of important knowledge growing at a rate which challenges understanding.
For example, the adrenal corticoids are given therapeutically for myriad diseases. Small amounts of the new synthetic steroids can produce complete suppression of the anterior pituitary production of adrenocorticotropic hormone. After sufficient time the flexible corticoid response is lost ("medical adrenalectomy"). Additional stress can unmask this loss suddenly and sometimes disastrously. These patients do not bend and spring back with stress; they lose this flexibility of response, and may succumb unless protected by exogenous steroids.
This book is dedicated to the broad conceptual understanding of such important phenomena beginning with physiologic fundamentals of the endocrine system and advancing to clinical applications.
Adrenal cortical steroids can be divided