Objective: Use of glucocorticoids for anti-inflammatory efficacy is limited by their side effects. This study examined, in the same individuals, prednisone's acute, dose-dependent effects on inflammation as well as biomarkers of glucose regulation and bone homeostasis.
Design: In this randomized, double-blind, parallel-design trial of healthy adults demonstrating cutaneous allergen-induced hypersensitivity, patients received placebo or prednisone 10, 25 or 60 mg daily for 7 days.
Methods: Effects on peripheral white blood cell (WBC) count, ex vivo whole blood lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated TNF-α release and response to cutaneous allergen challenge were assessed concurrently with biomarkers for glucose tolerance and bone turnover.
Results: Differential peripheral WBC counts changed significantly within hours of prednisone administration. Ex vivo, LPS-stimulated TNF-α was significantly reduced by all prednisone doses on days 1 and 7. The late phase cutaneous allergen reaction was significantly reduced with prednisone 60 mg vs placebo on days 1 and 7. Oral glucose tolerance tests revealed significant increases in glycaemic excursion on days 1 and 7, whereas increases in insulin and C-peptide excursions were more notable on day 7 with all doses of prednisone. The bone formation markers osteocalcin, and procollagen I N- and C-terminal peptides decreased significantly on days 1 and 7 vs placebo.
Conclusions: In healthy young adults after single doses as low as 10 mg, prednisone treatment has significant effects on glucose tolerance and bone formation markers within hours of treatment, in parallel with anti-inflammatory effects.