Active Ingredients

Methylprednisolone – Effect, Application & Risks


Methylprednisolone is a drug from the class of glucocorticoids . The drug is available as a solution for infusion, as a solution for injection, as an ointment or cream.

What is methylprednisolone?

Methylprednisolone is a white crystalline powder that is practically insoluble in water. It is commercially available in the form of monopreparations or combination preparations. Methylprednisolone belongs to the group of non-halogenated glucocorticoids. These are mainly used in cortisone deficiency.

However, since the active ingredient has a fairly broad spectrum of activity, it can also be administered for other diseases, such as adrenal insufficiency , respiratory diseases , arthritis or chronic inflammation of the stomach or intestines .

Methylprednisolone is available in tablet form. However, the drug can also be used as an infusion or injection . In the case of skin diseases, methylprednisolone is mainly applied in the form of ointments, creams, lotions or solutions.

Pharmacological action

Methylprednisolone is a glucocorticoid. Glucocorticoids bind to specific receptors in the cells . As a result, they interfere with protein biosynthesis . They have anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative effects. The immune system is inhibited and any immunological reactions that occur are suppressed by the drug.

Methylprednisolone is also suitable for the treatment of chronic respiratory diseases, since the active substance reduces swelling in the mucous membranes of the immune system. The decongestion is accompanied by an expansion of the bronchi . As a result, the affected patients can breathe much better.

Glucocorticoids, such as methylprednisolone, also target uncontrolled tissue proliferation . The growth of the tissue is inhibited so that unwanted skin appendages no longer grow, but shrink or even disappear.

Medical Application & Use

Methylprednisolone has a decongestant and anti-inflammatory effect. It is therefore used, among other things, to treat allergic diseases . Chronic asthma or allergic asthma are also possible indications for taking methylprednisolone. Other respiratory diseases that are treated with the drug are sinusitis , chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sarcoid , allergic rhinitis and chronic bronchitis .

Since the drug inhibits the activity of the immune system, autoimmune diseases are also treated with methylprednisolone. These include diseases such as vasculitis , arthritis , polyarthritis , psoriatic arthritis or lupus erythematosus . Autoimmune-related, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis are also treated with the active ingredient. The same applies to severe inflammation of the kidneys caused by an autoimmune reaction.

Ointments and creams containing methylprednisolone can suppress allergic skin reactions and inflammation. The active ingredient is prescribed for skin diseases such as hives , neurodermatitis , psoriasis or contact dermatitis . Since methylprednisolone is a glucocorticoid, it can also be used in Addison’s disease (adrenal insufficiency). Methylprednisolone compensates for the lack of endogenous cortisone.

Risks & side effects

Cortisone is usually only administered in doses that far exceed the natural cortisone level in the blood . Side effects occur especially with long-term treatment. Short-term assignments are usually unproblematic.

With methylprednisolone, it is difficult to draw the line between side effects and desired effects. In some diseases, the suppression of the immune system is intentional, while in other diseases it represents a serious side effect. A typical side effect of cortisone intake is the so-called Cushing’s syndrome . It is manifested by bull hump, facial flushing, full moon face and exhaustion . Cortisone intake increases blood pressure and blood sugar levels. The same applies to blood lipid levels .

Immunosuppressive drugs can lead to an increased susceptibility to infections. Water retention in the tissue leads to weight gain . Furthermore, cortisone seems to increase the risk of osteoporosis if there is a corresponding susceptibility . Therefore, regular bone density measurements should be carried out before and during prolonged cortisone therapy. If necessary, preventive measures such as taking vitamin D or calcium should be taken .

Another side effect affects the hormonal area. By taking methylprednisolone, the body stops producing its own hormones in the adrenal glands. This condition only becomes problematic when the methylprednisolone is suddenly discontinued. It takes a while for the body’s own production to start again. If there is not enough endogenous cortisone available after weaning, a life-threatening cortisone deficiency can occur. Cortisone should therefore never be discontinued suddenly, but always tapered off in consultation with the doctor treating you.

Other side effects of methylprednisolone include growth retardation in children, cardiac arrhythmia and depression . Methylprednisolone should not be taken if you are hypersensitive to the active ingredient. Hepatitis and diagnosed osteoporosis are also contraindications . The same applies to high blood pressure that is difficult to treat , diabetes mellitus , psychoses and infectious skin diseases . By suppressing the immune system, these skin diseases would become worse. During pregnancy and while breastfeedingMethylprednisolone should only be taken in exceptional cases after consultation with the doctor.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.