Effects of inhaled beclomethasone dipropionate and alternate-day prednisone on pituitary-adrenal function in children with chronic asthma

The New England Journal of Medicine
R WyattB Sherman

Abstract

Two corticosteroid regimens, alternate-day prednisone and inhaled beclomethasone dipropionate, have been more acceptable than daily oral corticosteroids for treatment of chronic asthma. To compare the effect of these regimens on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function, 20 children with asthma were evaluated while receiving 20 to 40 mg of prednisone on alternate mornings or 400 to 800 microgram per day of inhaled beclomethasone dipropionate in divided daily doses; seven children requiring only non-corticosteroid medication served as controls. Early-morning serum cortisol concentration, urinary free-cortisol excretion and the 11-desoxycortisol response to metyrapone were decreased to a similar degree among children receiving both corticosteroid regimens in comparison with the control patients and were lowest when alternate-day prednisone and inhaled beclomethasone dipropionate were given together. Thus, inhaled beclomethasone dipropionate appears similar to alternate-day prednisone in its effect on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function when used alone; the effect is additive when the two are used together.

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