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 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.
Prednisolone can also be used for allergic reactions ranging from seasonal allergies to drug allergic reactions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
^Lambrou GI, Vlahopoulos S, Papathanasiou C, Papanikolaou M, Karpusas M, Zoumakis E, Tzortzatou-Stathopoulou F (2009). "Prednisolone exerts late mitogenic and biphasic effects on resistant acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells: Relation to early gene expression". Leuk Res.33 (12): 1684–95. doi:10.1016/j.leukres.2009.04.018. PMID19450877.