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Systemic lupus erythematosus and glucocorticoids: A never-ending story?

Glucocorticoids (GCs) continue to be essential agents for the management of systemic lupus erythematosus, since there are no other drugs able to active remission of active disease so rapidly. However, their potential for causing irreversible damage greatly limit their use. Fortunately, some strategies may help take advantage of their huge anti-inflammatory power while limiting GC-induced side effects. This article reviews the pharmacological basis of GC action and their translation into the clinical ground. We also offer the practical approach for the use of GC in induction and maintenance therapy as well as the strategies for GC withdrawal of the respective practice of the authors. The three main basic principles are a) using methyl-prednisolone pulses to induce remission not only in severe disease; b) limiting initial doses of prednisone to ≤30 mg/d, with rapid tapering to ≤5 mg/d, which should be the dose for maintenance therapy; and c) individualizing the decision and the strategy to withdraw GCs. Long-term therapy with HCQ and the early introduction of immunosuppressive treatment would help achieve these objectives.

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