Glucocorticoids are one of the most effective treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, with well-established efficacy in controlling the disease symptoms and structural progression. Fears regarding their toxicity are reflected in common recommendations for the use of the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time.
We herein review toxicity data obtained in randomized clinical trials of low-dose glucocorticoid in rheumatoid arthritis, given that observational studies cannot guarantee the avoidance of bias by indication. Seven eligible randomized controlled trials were identified. These publications do not identify any strong signal of relevant toxicity of glucocorticoid in doses of up to 10 mg of prednisone equivalent/day for up to 2 years.
However, the quantity (1,100 patient years of exposure) and especially the quality of evidence are too limited to establish conclusions. A large prospective trial dedicated to the toxicity of low-dose glucocorticoid is dearly needed. Meanwhile, adherence to recommendations on standardized methodologies for the registration and report of glucocorticoid adverse events is essential to improve our knowledge and competence in the best management of these important medications.
Authors: Santiago T1, da Silva JA.