Background: We have previously reported that the decrease in high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol that is observed in patients with untreated sarcoidosis is limited to those with active disease.
Aim: To determine the effect of corticosteroids, used in the treatment of active sarcoidosis, on the reported lipoprotein metabolism abnormalities.
Methods: We studied 62 patients with biopsy-proven sarcoidosis, all of them with active disease. Sarcoidosis activity was evaluated by means of clinical, chest X-ray, gallium-67 scan, serum angiotensin-converting enzyme (peptidyl-dipeptidase A) values, and pulmonary function tests. A total of 40 patients were not treated with prednisone and 22 patients were treated with prednisone. The mean daily prednisone dosage in the treated patients with sarcoidosis was 20 mg and the mean duration of prednisone therapy was 6 months. Analysis of lipoprotein metabolism included: serum cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, HDL(2)-cholesterol, HDL(3)-cholesterol, apolipoprotein (apo) A-I, apo B, and triglyceride concentrations.
Results: When patients with active sarcoidosis not treated with prednisone were compared to those treated with prednisone, the former had significantly lower HDL-cholesterol (1.17+/-0.36 vs. 1.42+/-0.42 mmol/l; P=0.01) and HDL(2)-cholesterol (0.37+/-0.18 vs. 0.53+/-0.25 mmol/l; P=0.009) levels. Multiple regression analysis demonstrated that the HDL-cholesterol (P=0.004), HDL(2)-cholesterol (P=0.002), HDL(3)-cholesterol (P=0.02), and apo A-I (P=0.02) levels were the variables independently and significantly associated with steroid therapy.
Conclusions: Corticosteroid therapy, used in the treatment of active sarcoidosis, increased HDL-cholesterol levels to those seen in inactive disease. These changes are manifestations of reducing disease activity.