Long-term complications of past glucocorticoid use

Autoimmun Rev. 2013 Mar;12(5):629-32. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2012.12.002. Epub 2012 Dec 20.


Glucocorticoids (GC) are essential in the management of several medical conditions but its long-term use is associated with complications in diverse organs and systems. The aim of the present study is to review the long-term complications of past GC use. Permanent damage related to GC can affect patient's life even years after its withdrawal. Classical examples are cataracts and esthetic problems like skin atrophy, striae, acne and obesity. Interestingly, for some complications, the risk of an incident event can persist for past GC use. Higher risks of osteoporosis, osteonecrosis, cardiovascular disease, infections and cancer have been associated with prior GC therapy. These evidences reinforce the importance of limiting our GC prescriptions at its lower possible dose.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Diseases / chemically induced
  • Drug Utilization / trends
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects*
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Osteonecrosis / chemically induced
  • Osteoporosis / chemically induced
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / complications*
  • Time Factors


  • Glucocorticoids