Scientists in the United States have identified a new “trick” that steroids use to suppress overactive inflammation. It´s thought their discovery could lead to new anti-inflammatory drugs for conditions like arthritis without the harmful side effects of steroids.
Glucocorticoids, a class of steroid hormones, are commonly used for suppressing inflammation but if they are taken over the long term they are associated with side effects including increased risk of infections, liver damage, fluid retention, increased blood pressure, weight gain, easy bruising and slower wound healing.
That´s why there is a need to develop alternative treatments to combat inflammation.
“Chronic inflammatory diseases last for months and years, so you have to have a medicine that can be used for treating inflammation for the long term without having side effects,” said Dr. Jian-Dong Li, a lead investigator of the study.
It was already known that steroids suppress inflammation by directly targeting nuclear factor-kB (NF-kB), a master regulator of pro-inflammatory mediators. However, the researchers at Georgia State University found another underlying mechanism: the drugs also work by upregulating IRAK-M, a key negative regulator of inflammatory pathways.
Reporting their findings in the journal Nature Communications, the scientists said that glucocorticoids tightly control bacteria-induced inflammation by enhancing IRAK-M, one of the most critical negative feedback regulators of inflammation that inhibits the activation of the proteins MyD88 and IRAK1/4.
The research may lead to further development of anti-inflammatory therapeutic strategies.