Intensive Care Medicine

, 37:1865 | Cite as

High dose methylprednisolone counteracts the negative effects of rocuronium on diaphragm function

  • Karen Maes
  • Dries Testelmans
  • Debby Thomas
  • Marc Decramer
  • Ghislaine Gayan-RamirezEmail author



We previously showed that rocuronium combined with 24 h of controlled mechanical ventilation (CMV) leads to an additional negative effect on diaphragm function in rats. Based on clinical observations we examined whether the combination of rocuronium with corticosteroids during CMV would result into a further deterioration of diaphragm function.


Mechanically ventilated rats received intravenously a continuous infusion of saline (CMV) or rocuronium (ROC) or rocuronium combined with an intramuscular injection of 80 mg/kg of methylprednisolone (ROC-MP). After 24 h we determined diaphragm in vitro contractile properties, cross-sectional area (CSA) of the different fiber types, the MyHC/actin ratio, and proteolytic activity in diaphragm and gastrocnemius.


ROC treatment resulted in a significant reduction of diaphragm force compared with CMV. Treatment with MP attenuated the ROC-induced diaphragmatic contractile dysfunction. CSA of the diaphragm type IIx/b fibers tended to decrease by 13% after ROC but not after MP. Diaphragm MuRF-1 mRNA expression increased significantly with 30% after ROC and ROC-MP compared to CMV, while MAFbx was similar in all groups. Diaphragm caspase-3 (+39%) and calpain activity (+99%) were increased after ROC compared to CMV. Treatment with MP abolished the increase in both activities. Proteolytic activity in the gastrocnemius was similar in all groups. The MyHC/actin ratio was similar in the diaphragm and the gastrocnemius in all groups.


The combination of ROC with a high dose of MP attenuated diaphragm dysfunction caused by ROC probably through inhibition of the calpain and caspase-3 system. None of these treatments affected the gastrocnemius.


Mechanical ventilation Methylprednisolone Rocuronium 



The authors thank Mrs. Petra Weckx for cutting and staining the histological sections. Karen Maes is supported by FWO-Flanders.

Supplementary material

134_2011_2337_MOESM1_ESM.doc (45 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 45 kb)


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Copyright information

© Copyright jointly held by Springer and ESICM 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Maes
    • 1
  • Dries Testelmans
    • 1
  • Debby Thomas
    • 1
  • Marc Decramer
    • 1
  • Ghislaine Gayan-Ramirez
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Respiratory Muscle Research Unit, Laboratory of Pneumology and Respiratory DivisionKatholieke Universiteit LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Labo AdemspierenLeuvenBelgium

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