Corticosteroid anti-inflammatory meds have become incredibly popular, thanks to their truly unique quality of relieving inflammation. Corticosteroids are substances of hormonal origin; the creation of them is performed by the adrenal glands. Synthetic versions of these drugs are used to treat inflammation of various tissues (skin, joints and much more) and allergic reactions. Are you wondering how do steroids reduce inflammation?
The Nature of Inflammation in the Body
Inflammation is a process of the immune system’s responsiveness. The immune system has the special status of being the ‘police officers’ of the body. They search for etiological agents. It is also responsible for suppressing and activating some physiological processes.
They associate inflammation with several processes: fortification of the body, recovery, development, and protection. We don’t always require significant inflammation so when the process is accelerated the immune system harms the body on a cellular level.
The balanced correlation of inflammation and anti-inflammatory processes is the main precondition for staying healthy. Excessive inflammation induces the self-destruction of cells and tissues. Not very pronounced inflammation makes the body vulnerable to various infectious conditions. Many people face an elevated rate, which forces them to resort to anti-inflammatory drugs, such as corticosteroids. They are of great importance nowadays.
A recent study by the scientists from the University of Linköping (Sweden) has proved that the regeneration of a damaged tendon is stimulated under the impact of corticosteroids via their influence on inflammatory and remodeling stages of tendon healing. “Timing is very important.”, P. Aspenberg, a professor at the University of Linköping, said. The results of this research were originally published in Linköping University Electronic Press, 2017, and are now available on the Internet (PubMed and Diva-Portal).
Inflammation is involved in the regeneration of an injured tendon. During the initial stage, a considerable inflammatory process happens in the damaged site, as several groups of cells in the immune system are gathered inside the wound. This place causes painful sensations and is covered by swelling. Eventually, the building of new tissues form, which replace the traumatic damaged areas. Referring to some researches, experts have claimed that anti-inflammatory medicaments, for instance, dexamethasone (a preparation, that belongs to corticosteroids), negatively affect healing processes. However, when Danish scientists applied corticosteroid treatment simultaneously with the onset of the recovery phase, they detected the quality of the collagen tendon fibers was better after the therapy.
“When dexamethasone is applied during the recovery, the strengthening of the tendon’s tissues is observed. The group of control tissues, not impacted by dexamethasone, was twice sicker,” Parmis Blomgran, a postgraduate student and main author of the article, said.
What are Corticosteroids and How do They Work?
The steroids definition is that they are hormones, such as testosterone (a male hormone, which is commonly used during testosterone therapy and for sports purposes), progesterone (female hormone), and corticosteroids (hormones produced in the adrenal cortex of vertebrates).
Synthetic corticosteroids affect the organism in multifaceted ways. Their mechanism is connected with the presence of specific receptors of steroidal nature in the cell’s membranes.
Corticosteroids can provide:
- Anti-inflammatory effect because of the weakening of the inflammatory mediators’ synthesis.
- Influence on various metabolisms, including protein, lipid, water-electrolyte, and carbohydrate.
- Anti-allergic action, since they can stabilize cell membranes and prevent the formation of allergies mediators.
- Positive effect on the cardiovascular system, boosting vessel sensitivity to noradrenaline and adrenaline, which determines the arterial tension rate.
- Stimulation of the blood cells formation (thrombocytes and erythrocytes).
- Suppression of the sex hormones emission; reduction of the sensitivity of organs and tissues to hormones produced by the thyroid gland.
How do Corticosteroids Decrease Inflammation and do They Have Side Effects?
According to the research by Peter J Barnes (2006, London Imperial College), corticosteroids inhibit many inflammatory genes active in chronic inflammatory illnesses, primarily by reversing histone acetylation of activated inflammatory genes with the participation of liganded glucocorticoid receptors, coactivator, and histone deacetylase-2. By this way they reduce inflammation.
Corticosteroids have a wide spectrum of adverse events. The most frequent ones include:
- Edema triggered by sodium retention
- High arterial tension and elevated sugar level
- An exacerbation of gastrointestinal tract system disorders (gastritis or a peptic ulcer)
- Dermatitis, acne, the skin atrophy (especially severe cases)
- Preventing tissue from regeneration, which induces wound healing to slow down (but with proper timing it can be prevented, as mentioned above).
- Mood disturbance (rapid spirit swings), anxiety, depression, neurological dysfunction
- Suppression of the functioning of the adrenal glands, which leads to deterioration of various kinds of metabolism, excess weight gain.
Do Anabolic Steroids Reduce Inflammation?
Anabolic steroids don’t reduce inflammation. They have a different mechanism of action when compared with corticosteroids.
Most people believe that anabolic steroids, such as Methenolone enanthate, are widespread only in the sporting sphere. This is a misconception. In fact, all pharmaceuticals have been designed for therapeutic purposes. For instance, they can be a part of the hormone replacement therapy associated with testosterone decline (when men apply testosterone cream and other similar preparations), to handle muscular dystrophy, for complex treatment of HIV/AIDS (a well-known example is Oxandrolone), and even for using in anti-burn therapy. Some medicines, such as Trenbolone, have been developed in veterinary industry. Indeed, they’re demanded primarily in sports (weightlifting, CrossFit, boxing, MMA, wrestling, track and field and so on). Athletes choose different cycles, which can consist of one or several drugs. After the cycle, PCT steroids (post-cycle therapy drugs) should be prescribed to prevent rebound phenomenon and some negative consequences.