Resolved: Low-dose prednisone is indicated as a standard treatment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Oct;45(5):462-7. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(200110)45:5<462::aid-art366>;2-v.


It is known and has been repeatedly demonstrated that low doses of prednisone or prednisolone (10 mg daily or 5 mg bid) will control most of the inflammatory features of early polyarticular rheumatoid arthritis (Table 2). Also, low doses of prednisolone are known to retard the bony damage of rheumatoid arthritis, and thus these are the original disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. Glucocorticoids are potent antiinflammatory and immunosuppressive agents by virtue of their repression of the genomic expression by transcriptional interference, inhibiting such proinflammatory proteins as COX-2, IL-1, IL-2, IL-6, TNFalpha, and adhesion molecules. Nature has produced an ideal antiinflammatory and immunosuppressive agent, namely glucocorticoids, and it is up to us to use it in appropriate situations (e.g., active early inflammatory polyarticular rheumatoid arthritis) and in low doses, frequently daily divided doses. Low doses of glucocorticoids (prednisone or prednisolone) accomplish everything NSAIDs or COX-2 inhibitors accomplish but with more antiinflammatory effects, fewer side effects, and much less expense. It is certainly possible (but not precisely tested) that low doses of prednisone (prednisolone) enhance the effects of other DMARDs, including anti-TNF agents. The side effects of low-dose glucocorticoids are minimal. By using concomitant calcium and vitamin D and monitoring bone status with DEXA scans, the osteopenia potential of low doses of prednisone will be minimal. The use of low-dose prednisone without NSAIDs will put the patient at very little risk for stomach ulceration and bleeding.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Prednisolone / administration & dosage*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Prednisolone