Objectives: Glucocorticosteroids (GCs) are the most used anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs due to their effectiveness in managing pain and disease modification in many immune-inflammatory rheumatic diseases (IRDs). However, their use is limited because of adverse effects (AEs). Material and methods: The authors analyzed recent studies, including randomized controlled trials (RCTs), observational, translational studies and systematic reviews, providing an in-depth viewpoint on the benefits and drawbacks of GC use in rheumatology. Results: Glucocorticosteroids are essential in managing life-threatening autoimmune diseases and a cornerstone in many IRDs given their swift onset of action, necessary in flares. Several RCTs and meta-analyses have demonstrated that when administered over a long time and on a low-dose basis, GC can slow the radiographic progression in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients by at least 50%, satisfying the conventional definition of a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD). In the context of RA treatment, the use of modified-release prednisone formulations at night may offer the option of respecting circadian rhythms of both inflammatory response and HPA activation, thereby enabling low-dose GC administration to mitigate nocturnal inflammation and prolonged morning fatigue and joint stiffness. Long-term GC use should be individualized based on patient characteristics and minimized due to their potential AEs. Their chronic use, especially at medium/high dosages, might cause irreversible organ damage due to the burden of metabolic systemic effects and increased risk of infections. Many international guidelines recommend tapering/withdrawal of GCs in sustained remission. Treat-to-target (T2T) strategies are critical in setting targets for disease activity and reducing/ discontinuing GCs once control is achieved. Conclusions: Glucocorticosteroids’ use in treating IRDs should be judicious, focused on minimizing use, tapering and discontinuing treatment, when possible, to improve long-term safety. Glucocorticosteroids remain part of many therapeutic regimens, particularly at low doses, and elderly RA patients, especially with associated chronic comorbidities, may benefit from long-term low-dose GC treatment. A personalized GC therapy is essential for optimal long-term outcomes. Key words: quality of life, immune-mediated rheumatic diseases, overview on glucocorticosteroids.

The dichotomy of glucocorticosteroid treatment in immuneinflammatory rheumatic diseases: an evidence-based perspective and insights from clinical practice

Elvis Hysa;Tamara Vojinovic;Emanuele Gotelli;Elisa Alessandri;Carmen Pizzorni;Sabrina Paolino;Alberto Sulli;Maurizio Cutolo
2023-01-01

Abstract

Objectives: Glucocorticosteroids (GCs) are the most used anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs due to their effectiveness in managing pain and disease modification in many immune-inflammatory rheumatic diseases (IRDs). However, their use is limited because of adverse effects (AEs). Material and methods: The authors analyzed recent studies, including randomized controlled trials (RCTs), observational, translational studies and systematic reviews, providing an in-depth viewpoint on the benefits and drawbacks of GC use in rheumatology. Results: Glucocorticosteroids are essential in managing life-threatening autoimmune diseases and a cornerstone in many IRDs given their swift onset of action, necessary in flares. Several RCTs and meta-analyses have demonstrated that when administered over a long time and on a low-dose basis, GC can slow the radiographic progression in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients by at least 50%, satisfying the conventional definition of a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD). In the context of RA treatment, the use of modified-release prednisone formulations at night may offer the option of respecting circadian rhythms of both inflammatory response and HPA activation, thereby enabling low-dose GC administration to mitigate nocturnal inflammation and prolonged morning fatigue and joint stiffness. Long-term GC use should be individualized based on patient characteristics and minimized due to their potential AEs. Their chronic use, especially at medium/high dosages, might cause irreversible organ damage due to the burden of metabolic systemic effects and increased risk of infections. Many international guidelines recommend tapering/withdrawal of GCs in sustained remission. Treat-to-target (T2T) strategies are critical in setting targets for disease activity and reducing/ discontinuing GCs once control is achieved. Conclusions: Glucocorticosteroids’ use in treating IRDs should be judicious, focused on minimizing use, tapering and discontinuing treatment, when possible, to improve long-term safety. Glucocorticosteroids remain part of many therapeutic regimens, particularly at low doses, and elderly RA patients, especially with associated chronic comorbidities, may benefit from long-term low-dose GC treatment. A personalized GC therapy is essential for optimal long-term outcomes. Key words: quality of life, immune-mediated rheumatic diseases, overview on glucocorticosteroids.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/1150717
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