Mechanisms of glucocorticoids in the control of neuroinflammation

J Neuroendocrinol. 2012 Jan;24(1):174-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2011.02161.x.


Glucocorticoids (GCs) are widely used to treat inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). They predominantly act through the GC receptor, a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily that controls transcription by several different mechanisms. Owing to its ubiquitous expression, there are a variety of cell types that could serve as GC targets in the pathogenesis and treatment of MS. This brings about a great diversity of mechanisms potentially involved in the modulation of neuroinflammation by GCs, including the induction of apoptosis, repression of pro-inflammatory mediators and the expansion of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Nevertheless, it is not well understood which of these mechanisms are essential for therapeutic efficacy. In this review, we summarise findings made concerning the actions of GCs in MS and its animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, and also elucidate current concepts and developments that pertain to this clinically highly relevant treatment regimen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Encephalitis / metabolism*
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Glucocorticoids / metabolism*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid