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Definition of Epinephrine

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Epinephrine: Also known as adrenaline. A substance produced by the medulla inside of the adrenal gland. The name epinephrine was coined in 1898 by the American pharmacologist and physiologic biochemist John Jacob Abel who isolated it from the adrenal gland which is located above (epi-) the kidney "nephros" in Greek). (Abel is also crystallized insulin.) Technically speaking, epinephrine is a sympathomimetic catecholamine. It causes quickening of the heart beat, strengthens the force of the heart's contraction, opens up the airways (bronchioles) in the lungs, and has numerous other effects. The secretion of epinephrine by the adrenal gland is part of the fight-or-flight reaction. Adrenaline is a synonym of epinephrine and is the official name in the British Pharmacopoeia.

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Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease. See Answer
Reviewed on 12/4/2018

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