Cortisone acetate, hydrocortisone, and hydrocortisone acetate depress the resistance of mice to pneumococcal and influenza viral infections, although hydrocortisone acetate is somewhat less effective than the free alcohol, when given subcutaneously.
Pituitary adrenocorticotropin, even in highly purified form and in oil and beeswax, does not significantly alter the resistance of mice to these experimental infections, even when given in doses which may cause profound eosinopenia, lymphopenia, and weight loss, and which are at the limit of tolerance of the animals.
Corticosterone depresses resistance to pneumococcal infections significantly, but fails to alter resistance to influenza viral infections. The findings suggest that murine adrenals may produce one of the known adrenal steroids such as corticosterone along with another steroid, or may produce a steroid other than cortisone, hydrocortisone, or corticosterone.
When resistance is decreased by adrenal steroids, survival time is invariably shortened, and the effect of the steroid hormones is frequently demonstrable within the 1st day after infection with pneumococci, making it unlikely that the depression of resistance that is seen is primarily due to depression of antibody formation.
A single dose of 5 mg. of cortisone may cause depression of resistance and may decrease the survival time for 3 to 6 days afterward.
Growth hormone (somatotropic hormone) in highly purified form, and in the doses used, did not overcome the weight loss induced by cortisone, but the animals treated with growth hormone and cortisone regained their lost weight more rapidly than those receiving cortisone alone. Growth hormone alone caused a slight increase in the rate of gain in weight over controls.
Growth hormone alone did not increase resistance to infection, and did not increase the survival time, in mice infected with either pneumococci or influenza virus. Growth hormone in various dosages failed to overcome the effect of cortisone in depressing resistance to these infections.
Cortisone, hydrocortisone, corticosterone, and corticotropin did not alter significantly the titers of influenza virus attained in the murine lungs during the first 2 days after infection, but cortisone and hydrocortisone markedly delayed the rate at which virus titers declined during the subsequent 6 days. Corticosterone and corticotropin delayed the rate at which the titers declined but slightly, and growth hormone had no apparent effect, as compared with controls. Growth hormone did not overcome the effect of cortisone and hydrocortisone on viral titers. No detectable antibody was found as late as 6 days after infection, in controls or in hormone-treated animals.