Aims: Supraphysiologic glucocorticoid activity is well established to cause impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance, yet no study has evaluated dose-dependent effects of low-dose prednisone during short-term oral administration.
Methods: The objective of this study was to quantify the effects of daily 10 or 25 mg prednisone administration for one week on insulin sensitivity by employing a two-step hyperinsulinemic euglycemic glucose clamp (Step 1: insulin infusion = 20 mU/m²/min; Step 2: insulin infusion = 80 mU/m²/min) in healthy, lean males. The amount of glucose infused at steady-state to maintain stable blood glucose [90 mg/dl (4.95 mmol/l)] was used to calculate several indices of insulin sensitivity.
Results: During Step 1 of the clamp, whole body glucose disposal (M) was reduced by 35% (p = 0.003) and M/I was reduced by 29% (p = 0.025) for 25 mg prednisone compared to placebo. No appreciable effect of 10 mg prednisone was observed. During Step 2, M was reduced by 33% (p = 0.001) and 15% (p = 0.006) for 25 and 10 mg prednisone compared to placebo; and M/I ratio was reduced by 31% (p < 0.001) and 13% (p = 0.026), respectively. The insulin sensitivity index, Si, calculated as the quotient of augmentation of M/I between Step 1 and 2, was reduced by 35.3% (p < 0.01) and 23.5% (p < 0.05) for 25 and 10 mg prednisone, respectively.
Conclusion: Administration of relatively low pharmacological doses of prednisone for one week impaired insulin sensitivity in a dose-dependent manner in healthy males. These observed changes in insulin sensitivity are likely to be clinically relevant, especially in individuals predisposed to develop glucose intolerance.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.