Oral prednisone taper following intravenous steroids fails to improve disability or recovery from relapses in multiple sclerosis

Eur J Neurol. 2008 Jul;15(7):677-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2008.02146.x. Epub 2008 May 6.


Background: A short course of intravenous methylprednisolone (IVMP) followed by oral prednisone taper (OPT) is often used for the treatment of relapses in multiple sclerosis (MS). We examined the effect of IVMP plus OPT compared with IVMP only on neurologic disability 1 year after treatment of a relapse in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

Methods: Two hundred eighty-five consecutive relapses were analyzed in a retrospective fashion. One hundred fifty-two patients with a total of 171 relapses received IVMP plus an OPT at the time of relapse whilst 112 patients who experienced 114 relapses received IVMP without OPT.

Results: There was no difference between the two groups in the baseline characteristics as well as the mean or categorical EDSS at baseline, at the time of relapse confirmation, and at months 3, 6 and 12 after relapse confirmation.

Conclusion: Our observations suggest that OPT following treatment with IVMP for an MS relapse does not lead to improved neurologic outcome after 12 months compared with treatment with IVMP only. Moreover, our findings raise concerns regarding the common practice of using OPT following IVMP. Further studies are indicated to validate our findings and minimize exposure to systemic corticosteroids, well known for systemic toxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / administration & dosage*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / drug therapy*
  • Prednisone / administration & dosage*
  • Recovery of Function / drug effects*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Prednisone
  • Methylprednisolone