Gender differences in prednisone adverse effects: Survey result from the MG registry

Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2018 Oct 15;5(6):e507. doi: 10.1212/NXI.0000000000000507. eCollection 2018 Nov.


Objective: Prednisone is a first-line immunosuppressive treatment for myasthenia gravis (MG), whereas short-term and long-term adverse effects (AEs) are a limiting factor in its usage.

Method: The MG patient registry is a patient-driven, nation-wide database with patients of age ≥18 years, who were diagnosed with MG and live in the United States. Custom-designed "prednisone-steroid use and MG" survey was sent out to MG registry participants as part of semi-annual follow-up. Data were collected and analyzed for frequency.

Results: A total of 398 MG participants (21% response rate) completed the survey, including 173 men and 225 women. Among them, 298 reported current (174) or past (288) prednisone intake. Current prednisone dosage varied from 0.5 to 75 mg (median 10 mg, IQR 7-20), dosing frequency was daily in 132 (76%) and every other day in 31 (18%). Peak prednisone dose was commonly between 25 mg and 60 mg (Median 50 mg, IQR 25-60); however, doses more than 60 mg daily were reported in 59 (20%). Prednisone AEs were reported more commonly in women (95% vs 81%, p < 0.0001). Women reported more intolerable AEs (77% vs 50%, p < 0.00001) and less willingness to accept a dose increase (26% vs 44%, p = 0.03) compared with men.

Conclusions: Prednisone is commonly used in the treatment of MG, with highly variable dosages and dosing frequencies reflecting the absence of a standard guideline. Intolerable AEs were more commonly reported among women and was associated with unwillingness to accept a dose increase. Consensus guidelines and their validation are required to guide prednisone treatment for MG.