Clinical Pharmacology of Systemic CorticosteroidsGlucocorticosteroids are a product of the adrenal cortex and perform a staggering number of physiological effects essential for life. Their clinical use is largely predicated on their anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties, but they also have notable efficacy in the prophylaxis of postoperative nausea and corticosteroid pharmacology pdf. This article reviews the basic functions of glucocorticoids and their clinical use in dental practice. Inflammation is a normal process designed to protect and promote healing of injured tissues. It monounsaturated fat boost testosterone consists of vascular events, but also includes cellular functions in concert with corticosteroid pharmacology pdf immune system.
Clinical Pharmacology of Systemic Corticosteroids | Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Glucocorticosteroids are a product of the adrenal cortex and perform a staggering number of physiological effects essential for life. Their clinical use is largely predicated on their anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties, but they also have notable efficacy in the prophylaxis of postoperative nausea and vomiting. This article reviews the basic functions of glucocorticoids and their clinical use in dental practice.
Inflammation is a normal process designed to protect and promote healing of injured tissues. It primarily consists of vascular events, but also includes cellular functions in concert with the immune system.
Regardless of the nature of injury, the sequence of events is remarkably similar. A brief review of this process is essential to better distinguish the actions of steroidal versus nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs NSAIDS. By convention, the sequence of events is analyzed in terms of vascular and cellular phases, but realize that they occur simultaneously. Vascular changes account for the familiar clinical signs of inflammation: Mechanical injuries to skin elicit a transient neural reflex resulting in vasoconstriction, but this response lasts only seconds and does not occur with many other types of injuries.
Vasodilation and increased vessel wall permeability are the most consistent vascular responses. Vasodilation accommodates an increase in blood flow, ie, hyperemia, producing redness and heat. An increase in the permeability of vascular endothelium allows exudation of plasma, producing swelling and pain.
Both of these vascular changes are brought about by local chemical mediators, ie, autacoids. These substances are either released by damaged cells or synthesized within the injured tissue, and include histamine, bradykinin, prostaglandins, and a variety of other complex agents.
Some of these autacoids also sensitize sensory nerve endings and enhance nociception and pain transmission. The cellular phase of inflammation commences when leukocytes adhere to the endothelial wall margination , squeeze through the openings, and emigrate into the damaged tissues. Here the cells perform phagocytosis and other processes conventionally attributed to the immune response. These cells are summoned by a variety of chemical substances, a process called chemotaxis.
Some of these chemotactic agents are the identical autacoids that mediate the vascular changes described above. Others are specific agents such as cytokines, synthesized solely for their chemotactic function, eg, eosinophilic chemotactic factor.
Normally, small arterioles deliver blood to capillaries, which are then drained by venules. Vasoactive autacoids trigger the vascular phase, causing arterioles to dilate and endothelial cells to shrink, making capillaries and venules more permeable. Hyperemia produces the cardinal signs of redness and heat. Permeability allows extravasation of plasma leading to swelling and pain. Chemotactic autacoids target leukocytes WBCs , which adhere to endothelium margination , squeeze through the openings diapedesis and migrate out into the tissues emigration.
Although the inflammatory response is a normal protective process, its intensity and duration may become inappropriate and destructive, resulting in inflammatory disease. In this case, drugs having anti-inflammatory actions are indicated. This action per se will not render an individual immunologically incompetent.
Drugs that depress leukocyte function, especially lymphocytes, are designated more appropriately as immunosuppressant agents. In this regard, NSAIDS such as ibuprofen are anti-inflammatory, whereas glucocorticoids those resembling cortisone are both anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant. However, their impressive efficacy is also attributable to suppression of the inflammatory process that is a principal contributor. Both the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of NSAIDS are credited to their ability to inhibit synthesis of prostaglandins.
They have less anti-inflammatory efficacy than the glucocorticoids, but their side effects are less severe. This is of particular importance if prolonged use is anticipated. The adrenal cortex is comprised of 3 cellular zones, each synthesizing a specific class of steroidal hormones. The terms corticosteroid and corticoid are used interchangeably. Their synthesis commences with cholesterol and culminates in the production of mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids, and androgens.
Aldosterone is the principal mineralocorticoid and functions in the conservation of sodium and water. Its synthesis and release are controlled by the angiotensin pathway and it has no additional metabolic or anti-inflammatory influences.
Cortisol is the principal glucocorticosteroid and provides many physiological functions, including gluconeogenesis, which is the basis for its nomenclature. Like many endocrine organs, this zone of the adrenal cortex is under hypothalamic control and functions within the so-called hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and glucocorticoid effects are illustrated in Figure 2. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal HPA axis. The hypothalamus secretes corticotropin-releasing factor CRF , which stimulates the pituitary to secrete corticotropin formerly called adrenocorticotropic hormone. Corticotropin stimulates the adrenal cortex to synthesize and secrete cortisol. Provided serum concentrations are adequate, cortisol performs vital physiological functions and inhibits further activity of the HPA axis.
As cortisol is consumed, its serum levels diminish and inhibition of the axis wanes. This allows production of cortisol to commence again. This pattern of function is called circadian or diurnal rhythm and occurs at a normal basal rate unless the axis is excited by other factors such as hypoglycemia, trauma, or stress.
Glucocorticoids produce an impressive number of physiological effects. When supraphysiologic doses are administered, the subsequent pharmacological effects consist essentially of exaggerated physiologic effects. These doses will also impart a negative feedback on the axis that eventually leads to adrenal atrophy following sustained use.
The synthesis and release of cortisol normally follows a diurnal rhythm in which the highest serum level appears in the morning hours and declines throughout the day until its inhibitory influence on corticotropin-releasing factor and corticotropin production is lost and a new cycle begins. Although 10—20 mg is the normal amount secreted daily, the cycle is altered when the hypothalamic-pituitary region is excited by stress, trauma, hypoglycemia, or other conditions that demand increased cortisol production.
In , Hench et al 4 discovered that high levels of cortisol in the blood of Cushingoid patients exerted an anti-inflammatory effect in a subset of patients also suffering rheumatoid arthritis.
This was the first evidence that cortisol can produce anti-inflammatory effects. Until recently, this anti-inflammatory influence of glucocorticoids was believed evident only with therapeutic or supraphysiologic doses. More recent evidence has established that physiological levels of these hormones temper inflammation and immune functions, preventing them from becoming excessive and possibly destructive.
Anti-inflammatory and most of the metabolic actions of glucocorticoids commence with their binding to specific receptors within the cytoplasm of targeted cells. The receptor-steroid complex then migrates into the nucleus, where it binds to DNA and alters genetic synthesis of proteins.
Any number of cellular functions are thereby modified, including the production of enzymes that regulate myriad metabolic processes and those that regulate synthesis of inflammatory autacoids and immune-related cytokines. There also is accumulating evidence for so-called nongenomic actions of glucocorticoids in producing some of their additional effects, such as those in brain. Glucocorticoid excess leads to euphoria and psychosis, whereas deficiency results in lethargy, apathy, and depression.
Some of these manifestations can occur within minutes of exposure and are thought to be mediated by as yet uncharacterized membrane-coupled receptors. The sum of these actions results in suppression of vascular changes responsible for the cardinal signs of inflammation. Glucocorticoids also inhibit certain aspects of leukocyte function, which accounts largely for their immunosuppressant effect. They inhibit phagocytosis among macrophages and reduce the number and activity of specific subsets of T lymphocytes.
They have less influence on humoral immunity, however. Existing antibody levels are not reduced significantly and B-cell response to antigen is not inhibited. Unfortunately, the supraphysiologic dosages required to produce an adequate anti-inflammatory effect will unavoidably result in a sobering list of untoward effects. When elevated serum concentrations are sustained, they not only suppress the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, leading to adrenal atrophy, but also produce a series of exaggerated physiological responses summarized in Figure 2.
The glucocorticoids have an enviable record in the management of primary inflammatory disorders, especially those attributed to immunologic mechanisms, eg, autoimmune disease, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. Their anti-inflammatory efficacy surpasses that of the nonsteroidal agents, eg, ibuprofen, but their potential for side effects is also greater.
Although short-term use 1 week is relatively safe, chronic use introduces many concerns regarding side effects. This condition consists of a rapid and focal deterioration of bone quality and primarily affects the femoral head. Osteocyte apoptosis has been implicated in the pathogenesis of the condition, but there is still no explanation for individual susceptibility. For patients having severe disease, a physician may be forced to prescribe chronic therapy and accept the risk for side effects.
We must assume that all patients receiving chronic supraphysiologic doses of glucocorticoids will have a compromised immune status and some degree of adrenal atrophy. When a surgical procedure is planned, there is increased risk for delayed healing or postoperative infection.
In some cases, antibiotics may be ordered as a prophylactic measure. If complex extractions or placement of dental implants are planned, consideration must also be given to the possibility of steroid-induced osteoporosis and increased serum glucose concentrations associated with chronic glucocorticoid use. If present, these conditions may compromise treatment outcome.
While a patient is consuming a daily exogenous source of glucocorticoid, the patient's adrenal cortex does not function, and this results in varying degrees of adrenal atrophy. The influence of smaller doses over longer durations is highly variable.
The prescribed steroid is not only therapeutic anti-inflammatory , but it is also serving normal physiological requirements for the patient. This introduces 2 important considerations. First of all, if the steroid medication is abruptly discontinued, the hypothalamus and pituitary will attempt to stimulate cortisol production in order to sustain normal cardiovascular function and glycemic control.
However, the adrenal tissues will not respond, having atrophied during their sustained period of disuse. Common symptoms of acute adrenal insufficiency include irritability, nausea, arthralgia, dizziness, and hypotension.
To avoid this complication, steroid medication must be withdrawn gradually, tapering the doses generally over 6—9 months to allow the atrophied cortex to regain functional status. In cases where oral intake is restricted and prevents normal medication consumption, an adequate amount of glucocorticoid should be administered intravenously during the preoperative period. Secondly, patients who have not interrupted their medication may also present a concern.
During particularly stressful periods, such as severe infection or surgery, additional steroid may be required to equal a cortisol surge that might have been produced by a functioning adrenal cortex.
Arbitrary regimens for managing such patients generally consist of doubling or tripling the patient's dose on the morning of surgery. Over the next 2 days, the dose is incrementally returned to baseline. For example, a patient taking 20 mg prednisone daily could be given 40 mg the day of surgery and 30 mg the day after surgery, and the normal mg dosage could be resumed on the second day following surgery.
To lessen the adverse impact of chronic steroid therapy, the physician may attempt alternate-day steroid dosing. This schedule will permit the adrenal cortex to function on the drug-free day.