Glucocorticoids may trigger attacks in several types of periodic paralysis

Marianne Arzel-Hézode, Suzanne McGoey, Damien Sternberg, Savine Vicart, Bruno Eymard, Bertrand Fontaine
Neuromuscular Disorders: NMD 2009, 19 (3): 217-9
Hypokalemic periodic paralysis is a rare disorder characterized by episodic attacks of muscle flaccidity associated with low serum potassium levels. We report twelve patients with normokalemic and hypokalemic periodic paralysis due to various mutations who developed hypokalemic paralytic episodes following a single dose or short-term administration of glucocorticoids. We hypothesize that glucocorticoids cause hypokalemia due to their stimulation of the Na(+)-K(+) ATPase mediated by insulin and amylin and due to their side effect of insulin resistance resulting in hyperglycemia. This report adds to the clinical description of glucocorticoids as a trigger of attacks of hypokalemic periodic paralysis indicating that glucocorticoids should be administered with caution in patients with periodic paralysis.

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