Use of glucocorticoids and risk of infections

Autoimmun Rev. 2008 Dec;8(2):153-5. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2008.07.010. Epub 2008 Aug 12.


Glucocorticoids (GC) exert many complex quantitative and qualitative immunosuppressive effects that induce cellular immunodeficiency and consequently might increase host susceptibility to various viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections. In chronic immune/inflammatory conditions cortisol is secreted at inadequate levels and GC therapy today is devoted in substituting this hormone in adequate doses (low) to compensate just for this; therefore, the correct timing of GC administration, such as given during the turning-on phase of TNF secretion (night), can be of major importance. Consequently, the use of the lowest possible GC dose, at the night time and even for the shortest possible time, should decrease dramatically the risk of infections.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Immunity / drug effects
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Infections / microbiology
  • Infections / parasitology


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immunosuppressive Agents