Effect of short-term, low-dose corticosteroids on plasma lipoprotein lipids

Atherosclerosis. 1987 Feb;63(2-3):167-72. doi: 10.1016/0021-9150(87)90117-1.


The effects of low-dose short-term corticosteroids on plasma lipid and lipoprotein cholesterol was measured in 23 subjects who received prednisone for active rheumatic disease. After 1 month, plasma cholesterol increased from 195 to 219 mg/dl (P less than 0.001), and high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) from 52 to 70 mg/dl (P less than 0.001). Mean plasma triglyceride (TG) and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) did not show a significant change. There was a wide variation in individual response of plasma lipid values to corticosteroid treatment. There was also a strong relationship between change in plasma total cholesterol and change in LDL-C (r = 0.86) (P less than 0.001), and change in TG (r = 0.39, P less than 0.01), but not in HDL-C. Thus, short-term, low-dose corticosteroids markedly affect plasma lipid levels. In most subjects there is an increase in HDL-C; however, an increase in total cholesterol may be indicative of a change in VLDL-C and LDL-C as well.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisone / administration & dosage
  • Prednisone / pharmacology*
  • Rheumatic Diseases / drug therapy
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol
  • Prednisone