Update on glucocorticoid action and resistance

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 Mar;117(3):522-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2006.01.032.


Extensive development of inhaled and oral glucocorticoids has resulted in highly potent molecules that have been optimized to target activity to the lung and minimize systemic exposure. These have proved highly effective for most asthmatic subjects, but despite these developments, there are a number of subjects with asthma who fail to respond to even high doses of inhaled or even oral glucocorticoids. Advances in delineating the fundamental mechanisms of glucocorticoid pharmacology, especially the concepts of transactivation and transrepression and cofactor recruitment, have resulted in better understanding of the molecular mechanisms whereby glucocorticoids suppress inflammation. The existence of multiple mechanisms underlying glucocorticoid insensitivity raises the possibility that this might indeed reflect different diseases with a common phenotype, and studies examining the efficacy of potential new agents should be targeted toward subgroups of patients with severe corticosteroid-resistant asthma who clearly require effective new drugs and other approaches to improved asthma control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / genetics*
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Drug Resistance / genetics*
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / genetics*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid