|ATC code||A07EA01 (WHO) C05AA04 (WHO), D07AA03 (WHO), H02AB06 (WHO), R01AD02 (WHO), S01BA04 (WHO), S02BA03 (WHO), S03BA02 (WHO)|
|Biological half-life||2-3 hours|
|Chemical and physical data|
|Molar mass||360.444 g/mol|
|3D model (Jmol)||Interactive image|
Prednisolone is a synthetic glucocorticoid, a derivative of cortisol, used to treat a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions and some cancers. It is the active metabolite of the drug prednisone and is used especially in patients with liver failure, as these individuals are unable to metabolize prednisone into active prednisolone; it is primarily metabolized via the liver enzyme, 11-β-hydroxydehydrogenase. Adverse effects are not generally seen with short term therapy, but weight gain, impaired immune response, and behavioral disturbances commonly occur with longer durations of treatment.
Prednisolone is a corticosteroid drug with predominant glucocorticoid and low mineralocorticoid activity, making it useful for the treatment of a wide range of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions such as asthma, uveitis, pyoderma gangrenosum, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, pericarditis, temporal arteritis and Crohn's disease, Bell's palsy, multiple sclerosis, cluster headaches, vasculitis, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and autoimmune hepatitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Kawasaki disease, dermatomyositis, and sarcoidosis.
Prednisolone acetate ophthalmic suspension (eye drops) is an adrenocortical steroid product, prepared as a sterile ophthalmic suspension and used to reduce swelling, redness, itching, and allergic reactions affecting the eye.
Corticosteroids inhibit the inflammatory response to a variety of inciting agents and, it is presumed, delay or slow healing. They inhibit the edema, fibrin deposition, capillary dilation, leukocyte migration, capillary proliferation, fibroblast proliferation, deposition of collagen, and scar formation with inflammation.
There are several adverse reaction from the use of prednisolone:
- Increase appetite, weight gain, nausea, and malaise
- Increase risk of infection
- Cardiovascular events in children
- Dermatological effects including reddening of face, bruising/ skin discoloration, impaired wound healing, thinning of skin, skin rash, fluid build up and abnormal hair growth
- Hyperglycemia; patients with diabetes may need increase insulin or diabetic therapies
- Menstrual abnormalities
- Less response to hormones especially during stressful instances such as surgery or illness.
- Change in electrolytes: rise in blood pressure, increase sodium and low potassium leading to alkalosis
- GI system effects: Swelling of stomach lining, reversible increase in liver enzymes and risk of stomach ulcers
- Muscular and skeletal abnormalities such as muscle weakness and loss, osteoporosis, long bone fractures, tendon rupture and back fractures.
- Neurological effects include involuntary movements (convulsions), headaches, and vertigo
- Behavioral disturbances 
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Although there are no major human studies of prednisolone use in pregnant women, studies in several animals show that it may cause birth defects including increase cleft palate. Prednisolone should be used in pregnant women when benefits outweigh the risks and children born from mothers using prednisolone during pregnancy should be monitored for impaired adrenal function.
Prednisolone is found in breast milk of mothers taking prednisolone.
Mechanism of action
As a synthetic glucocorticoid (GC), its lipophilic structure allows for easy passage through the cell membrane where it then binds to its respective glucocorticoid receptor (GCR) located in the cytoplasm. Upon binding, formation of the GC/GCR complex causes dissociation of chaperone proteins from the glucocorticoid receptor enabling the GC/GCR complex to translocate inside the nucleus. This process occurs within 20 minutes of binding. Once inside the nucleus, the homodimer GC/GCR complex binds to specific DNA binding-sites known as glucocorticoid response elements (GREs) resulting in gene expression or inhibition. Complex binding to positive GREs leads to synthesis of anti-inflammatory proteins while binding to negative GREs block the transcription of inflammatory genes.
Society and culture
In the United States
- Prednisolone sodium posphate oral solution (Pediapred)
- Prednisolone acetate oral suspension (Flo-Pred)
- Prednisolone oral tablets (Millipred)
- Prednisolone sodium phosphate oral dissolving tablets (Orapred)
As a glucocorticosteroid, unauthorized or ad-hoc use of prednisolone during competition via oral, intravenous, intramuscular or rectal routes is banned under WADA anti-doping rules. The drug may be used in competition with a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption), in compliance with WADA regulations. Local or topical use of prednisolone during competition as well as any use out of competition is not regulated.
Prednisolone is also used in the treatment of inflammatory and allergic conditions in cats and dogs.
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