Home Steroid Information Cortisone vs Hydrocortisone: What is the Main Difference Between Them?

Cortisone vs Hydrocortisone: What is the Main Difference Between Them?

Posted by admin in Steroid Information Category. Reviewed and Updated: 19 March, 2019

Corticosteroids are widely used in medicine for treating various diseases and ailments. Cortisone & hydrocortisone enjoy cosmic popularity to handle severe rheumatic conditions, inflammations, bronchial asthma and others. They feature several strong effects strong (anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic), work as an anti-shock, and exhibit an immunosuppressive effect (learn more about corticosteroids in the article on corticosteroid definition). You may ask a question: what is the key difference between them? First, let’s figure out what specifically each of hormones is.

Cortisone — Definition and Features

Cortisone belongs to steroid sort, estrogens and anabolics are its “colleagues”. Chemically it’s a corticosteroid which resembles corticosterone. More distinctly, it belongs to glucocorticosteroid group. Its artificials are used to treat a smorgasbord of illnesses and can be taken intravenously, orally, and intraarticularly. The substance acts immunosuppressively (it’s an immunosuppressant), thus squashing the inflammatory rejoinder, neutralizing painful sensations and tumefaction at the damaged site. However, such an influence cannot pass without a trace. It can cause side effects, specifically when the pharmaceutical is used over several weeks/months. The body produces corticosteroids, including this one in suprarenal glands. This hormone influences the functioning of many bodily systems, including immunity and musculature. It is an integral part of all human systems, it is presented in every human organism in balanced quantities, however, its fluctuations (“pumps and dumps”) are dangerous. Cortisone, like hydrocortisone, has a pivotal impact on metabolism of principal nutrients. It inherently influences electrolytic and fluid balances.

What Is Hydrocortisone (Cortisol)?

Cortisol (hydrocortisone when used as medicine) is a steroidal agent “007”, secreted by the cells of the cortex (the outer layer of the adrenal glands). Adrenocorticotropic hormone synthesized by the pituitary gland pushes its secretion. Its main role implies blood glucose rate increasing through gluconeogenesis, suppressing the immunity and promoting the metabolism of the main nutrients, namely carbs, fatty acids and protein. It’s also responsible for many biological processes regulation:

  • muscle fibers contraction;
  • dampened inflammatory processes;
  • dumping histamine functioning (this is an organic nitrogenous compound, which declines the allergic reactions’ severity);
  • triggering stress response.

Synthesis of cortisol is a long chain of biochemical reactions. First, the fat-like cholesterol compound form pregnenolone. Then it modifies into progesterone. Both hormones are sex ones. Corticosterone (a low-activity glucocorticoid) is created on the basis of progesterone. Later it develops into cortisol, which is more strong and active form.

Cortisol was nicknamed “stress hormone” justifiably, since it provides resistive answer to external threats and various stressful situations. It increases heart beating and raises arterial tension. It controls the vascular tone, preventing rapid changes in blood pressure.

Cortisol is characterized by a useful feature: it’s an internal “alarm”. It also helps us wake up in the morning. This hormone acts as a kind of signaling, which leads the body to alertness at risk and encourages a vigorous awakening. It provides safeguarding effect in the “fight-or-flight response” (hyperarousal) participating in a cascade of stress reactions which begin in amygdalae. A classical example of this response in the animal world is a grazing zebra which sees a deadliest lion. In human life, examples include responses to aggro, rowdyism, ruffianism, seeing road traffic fatalities, animal (pitbull’s, bullmastiff’s, rottweiler’s, bullterrier’s, bear’s, leopard’s, tiger’s, cobra’s, hippo’s, etc.) attack. It is better not to see bloodthirsty or noxious animals, isn’t it?

Common Features and Difference Between Cortisone and Hydrocortisone

Cortisone and cortisol are differing things. Cortisol is the most plenteous glucocorticoid in humans, while cortisone is less bountiful, however, its dominancy is observed in rodents (rats, squirrels, chipmunks, porcupines, beavers, hamsters, and gerbils). Both of them occur in the fascicular area of the adrenals, but cortisone is additionally produced in zona glomerulosa. Another differentiative thing is that cortisone is like a plasticine for aldosterone, a mineralocorticoidal agent which is a life-and-death substance for homeostatic adjusters of Na & K levels that ensure the dynamic state of equilibrium in the body. Here is a list of common and distinctive characteristics of cortisone and hydrocortisone.

  • Belonging to a single class.
  • Cortisone and hydrocortisone are released in similar forms (tabs, shots, etc.). But cortisone has a nugatory effect when applied locally. People sometimes call hydrocortisone cream cortisone.
  • In general, these hormones have similar functions. They affect metabolism, regulate the level of stress, etc. Some people name both cortisol and cortisone the “stress hormone”.
  • Hormones were discovered almost simultaneously. They were among the compounds discovered in the 1930s by E. Kendall, T. Reichstein and P. Hench, who received the Nobel prize for their contribution to science in 1950.
  • The main difference is in the chemical structure of these substances. Hydrocortisone differs from cortisone by the presence of hydroxyl and a hydrogen atom instead of oxygen at the carbon atom in position C (11).
    They have different chemical names. In chemistry, cortisone is known as 17,21-Dihydroxypregn-4-ene-3,11,20-trione. Cortisol name is 11β,17α,21-Trihydroxypregn-4-ene-3,20-dione.
  • Chemical formulas are also not identical. The hydrocortisone’s (cortisol’s) one is C21H30O5. The cortisone’s one is C21H28O5.
  • Molar masses are distinctive. Hydrocortisone (cortisol) weighs 362.460 g / mol. Cortisone has 360.45 g · mol-1.
  • Hydrocortisone (cortisol) is an active substance in the aspect of glucocorticoid activity. Cortisone is a kind of precursor that can be converted into cortisol.
  • As reported by Drugs.com specialists, both substances have high glucocorticoid activity. Hence they should not be used durably.
    In cortisol (hydrocortisone) there is a shorter half-life (100 min) than in its “chum” (several hours).
  • One user of Google Groups has written in a forum that a dog-eared book
    he has says cortisol has about 50 percent more bioactivity than his “brother”.

Generally, the hormones (that is, their synthetic forms) have the similar side effects of steroids. These displeasing consequences include Cushing’s syndrome, Na and H2O retention in the body with development of edema, elevated blood sugar, aggravation of stomach ulcers (especially in case of combined use of corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and much more. In patients, intraocular pressure may boost, triggering optic nerve disorders. Trophic transformation of the cornea, exophthalmos, and cataract can also occur. Enhanced risk of eye viral, bacterial, or fungal infections (secondary) may also take place. However, hydrocortisone is believed to be safer.

Contemporary scientists perform no studies comparing these substances dissimilar to old researchers like Oliver Garrod (Postgrad Med J. 1958 Jun), Sidney H. Ingbar and Norbert Freinkel (J Clin Invest. 1955 Sep), Thomson JF, Mikuta ET (Endocrinology. 1954 Aug;55(2)).

Hydrocortisone vs Cortisone — What is Better?

Currently, in the pharmaceutical market, cortisone is gradually replaced by hydrocortisone, which has similar adverse events. However, hydrocortisone is believed to be more effective in suppressing the inflammatory response. So, reputedly, in the hydrocortisone vs. cortisone battle, hydrocortisone (cortisol “simulator”) is a worthier choice. According to Drugs.com, it is marketed as Ala Skalp, Alcortin, Anusol HC, Aquanil HC, Bactine, Balneol for Her, Caldecort, Cetacort, Colocort (United States), Dermacort, Dioderm, Eurax HC with Crotamiton, Mildison, Pinewood’s Bites and Sting Relief, Locoid, Efcortesol (United Kingdom), Hyacan, Lycortin-S, Efcorlin, Hycoson, Lycor (India), Cleiton & Saxizon (Japan). It is worthwhile to note that “cortisone” is used as a generic term for corticosteroids and will serve this role in the foreseeable future.

We hope you fully internalize the provided information. Be judgmatical, use RX meds only after a consultation with your healthcare professional. This does not apply to over-the-counter drugs, but it is still better to play it safe and talk to the doctor before administration.