Short-term high dose steroid therapy does not affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in relapsing multiple sclerosis patients. Clinical assessment by the insulin tolerance test
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Ten patients in acute exacerbation of multiple sclerosis were treated with 1000 mg of methylprednisolone for 7 days, followed by abrupt cessation of therapy. The function of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis was assessed by the response of ACTH and Cortisol to insulin tolerance test (ITT). ITT was performed 1 day before and 1, 3, 8, 13 and 23 days after the termination of the therapy (days 0, 8, 10, 15, 20 and 30 of the study, respectively). The response of these hormones to insulin-induced hypoglycemia prior to therapy was normal. There was no suppression of the ACTH response to hypoglycemia after the methylprednisolone therapy based on the 100% rise of ACTH after ITT. Cortisol response during ITT was suppressed at day 8 (1 day after ending of therapy) but recovered on day 10 (3 days after ending of therapy). In conclusion, 7 day-therapy with 1000 mg methylprednisolone does not result in the permanent suppression of the HPA axis, suggesting that no regular supplemental corticosteroid coverage is required. The observed transitory suppression of the HPA axis recovered spontaneously after the therapy.
Key-wordsHypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis multiple sclerosis methylprednisolone ACTH Cortisol insulin tolerance test
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