, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 618-626

Corticosteroids for multiple sclerosis: I. Application for treating exacerbations

Summary

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disorder characterized by a multiphasic course of neurological exacerbations, periods of clinical remission, and, in most patients, ultimately progressive deterioration of functional capabilities. The relapsing-remitting phase of the disease involves acute interruption in neurological functioning relating to areas of inflammation in discrete central-tract systems. The treatment of MS exacerbations with anti-inflammatory agents such as corticosteroids and adrenocorticotropic hormone has represented an established practice throughout the neurology community. Although there is scientific rationale supporting application of these agents for this purpose, the broad diversity of approaches to using these drugs in clinical practice is a derivative of expert opinion and anecdotal experience. Ultimately, the treatment of MS-related exacerbations is part science, but mostly art. This review discusses the pharmacology of these agents, to better understand how they may act to mitigate attacks and to provide some practical formulations for how to use them in the clinic for the benefit of patients.