Indexed on: 17 Jul '07Published on: 17 Jul '07Published in: La Revue de Médecine Interne
It was shown that corticosteroids alter the inflammatory and immune responses. Many publications report on serious infections occurring in patients receiving corticosteroids or presenting with Cushing's syndrome. This information is synthesized in this article.The demonstration of the infectious risk associated with corticosteroids relies on observational data and on biological plausibility. However, this risk remains difficult to quantify, because of many confusing factors such as the patients' associated conditions and immunosuppressive treatments, and the highly variable dose and duration of the corticosteroid treatment. Taking into account the published data, the screening for a chronic infection seems licit among patients receiving a systemic corticosteroid treatment, in particular for those who will receive more than 10 mg of prednisone per day.Although no clinical trials of prevention of infections in corticosteroid treated patients has been published, a strategy aiming at minimizing the infectious risk of corticosteroid treated patients is proposed, based on the analysis of the literature presented in this article.