Prednisone effects on neurochemistry and behavior. Preliminary findings

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1990 Oct;47(10):963-8. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.1990.01810220079010.


To evaluate the neurochemical, neuroendocrine, and behavioral effects of exogenous corticosteroids in humans, we administered prednisone (80 mg/d orally for 5 days) in a double-blind manner to 12 medically healthy volunteers. Behavioral measures were assessed before, during, and after prednisone administration in all 12 subjects, and cerebrospinal fluid biochemistry was assessed before and during prednisone administration in 9 of the subjects. Prednisone administration was associated with decreases in cerebrospinal fluid levels of corticotropin, norepinephrine, beta-endorphin, beta-lipotropin, and somatostatinlike immunoreactivity. No significant changes were noted in cerebrospinal fluid levels of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, corticotropin-releasing hormone, 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol, homovanillic acid, or 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid. No consistent or significant group mean changes were observed in structured behavioral ratings, although 9 (75%) of the volunteers studied reported mild behavioral changes while receiving prednisone. Correlations between the neurochemical and behavioral changes are discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Mental Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Neuropeptides / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Prednisone / adverse effects
  • Prednisone / pharmacology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales


  • Neuropeptides
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Prednisone