About Steroids / Corticosteroids

Steroids (particularly Corticosteroids) occur naturally in the body as part of the body's response to problems. Artificial steroids are strong, quick acting drugs. Therefore they are often used to treat Inflammation quickly, so that other maintenence drugs have chance to take effect.

There are many adverse side effects of steroid treatment. If a patient is on steroids for a long time, their body may not produce enough natural steroids. In this case, it is necessary Taper off of the medication slowly to gradually allow the body to resume its own production. If Steroids are not slowly Tapered, dangerous side effects may occur.

Steroids may be given intravenously as an inpatient in hospital, rectally (as an Enema), or orally as tablets.

For more information on the different types of corticosteroids, and the advantages and disadvantages of each, see Prednisone and Entocort.

How do Corticosteroids Work?

Corticosteroids work by "quieting" many aspects of the Immune System. In patients with Inflammatory diseases it can reduce symptom severity, however it also reduces the body's ability to fight infection.

Corticosteroids act by Decreasing:

Corticosteroid Resistance / Steroid Insensitivity

Some patients may not respond to Corticosteroids as well as others. This is particularly true for patients with high levels of certain Cytokines:
  • IL - 2
  • Interleukin 4 (IL - 4)
  • Interleukin 13 (IL - 13)
  • TNF

Protein Binding
Some patients may have reduced Corticosteroid activity if too much of the drug binds to Albumin, a protein in the blood.

Multidrug Resistance Gene
Excessive activation of the Multidrug Resistance Gene produces a protein that can actually "Pump" Corticosteroids out of cells.


Utilize these links to get 2nd opinions, to verify the above information is correct and/or gain alternative insights.

Steroids at Wikipedia

Yang U-X, Lichtenstein GR. Corticosteroids in Crohn's Disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2002; 97(4): 803-823.

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