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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2014 Oct;53(10):1742-51. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keu135. Epub 2014 Apr 10.

Benefits and risks of low-dose glucocorticoid treatment in the patient with rheumatoid arthritis.

Author information

1
Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA and Department of Rheumatology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA. akavanaugh@ucsd.edu.
2
Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA and Department of Rheumatology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.

Abstract

Glucocorticosteroids (GCs) have been employed extensively for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other autoimmune and systemic inflammatory disorders. Their use is supported by extensive literature and their utility is reflected in their incorporation into current treatment guidelines for RA and other conditions. Nevertheless, there is still some concern regarding the long-term use of GCs because of their potential for clinically important adverse events, particularly with an extended duration of treatment and the use of high doses. This article systematically reviews the efficacy for radiological and clinical outcomes for low-dose GCs (defined as ≤10 mg/day prednisone equivalent) in the treatment of RA. Results reviewed indicated that low-dose GCs, usually administered in combination with synthetic DMARDs, most often MTX, significantly improve structural outcomes and decrease symptom severity in patients with RA. Safety data indicate that GC-associated adverse events are dose related, but still occur in patients receiving low doses of these agents. Concerns about side effects associated with GCs have prompted the development of new strategies aimed at improving safety without compromising efficacy. These include altering the structure of existing GCs and the development of delayed-release GC formulations so that drug delivery is timed to match greatest symptom severity. Optimal use of low-dose GCs has the potential to improve long-term outcomes for patients with RA.

KEYWORDS:

benefit–risk; disease modifying; glucocorticoids; prednisone; rheumatoid arthritis; treatment strategies

PMID:
24729402
PMCID:
PMC4165844
DOI:
10.1093/rheumatology/keu135
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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