Health Discoveries in Brain Injury

Frequent, high doses of steroids most effective against lupus

July 30, 2010
A new study on using corticosteroids to treat lupus shows that using large doses early and frequently in the course of the inflammatory disease has better results than limited intravenous dosage over several months.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found the earlier treatment also may result in fewer side effects, such as weight gain and acne, which are common when the drugs are taken over a long period of time.

"By giving the very high dose early and frequently in the course of the disease, we could actually end up using much less steroids in the long run," said Dr. Marilynn Punaro, professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern. "This finding suggests that by doing so, we might be able to get the disease under control more quickly and patients might experience fewer long-term side effects."

The study, published in a recent issue of Nature, showed that higher doses of the intravenous steroids kill off the plasmacytoid dendritic cells that produce interferon alpha, a protein that promotes the inflammation in lupus.

Dr. Betty Diamond, director of the Center for Autoimmune and Musculoskeletal Disorders within the North Shore-LIJ Health System, is one of the leaders of a two-year national study on patients with lupus and their healthy siblings.ADNFCR-2730-ID-19914122-ADNFCR
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