Methylprednisolone is a synthetic glucocorticoid or corticosteroid drug.
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It is marketed in the USA and Canada under the brand names Medrol and Solu-Medrol. It is also available as a generic drug.
Like most adrenocortical steroids, methylprednisolone is typically used for its anti-inflammatory effects. However, glucocorticoids have a wide range of effects, including changes to metabolism and immune responses. The list of medical conditions for which methylprednisolone is prescribed is rather long, and is similar to other corticosteroids such as prednisolone.
Common uses include arthritis therapy and short-term treatment of bronchial inflammation or acute bronchitis due to various respiratory diseases. It is used both in the treatment of acute periods and long-term management of autoimmune diseases, most notably systemic lupus erythematosus. Also for use as a treatment for multiple sclerosis.
Methylprednisolone is also prescribed for nonpenetrating spinal cord injuries. It has been shown that a dose of 30 mg/kg IV followed by IV drip at 5.4 mg/kg/hr for 23 hours improves sensory and motor recovery if given within eight hours of the injury.
It is also used for vestibular neuritis.
Methylprednisolone has some serious side effects if taken long-term, including weight loss, glaucoma, osteoporosis and psychosis, especially when used at high dosage. The most serious side effect occurs after the adrenal glands cease natural production of cortisol, which methylprednisolone will replace. Abrupt cessation of the drug after this occurs can result in a condition known as Addisonian crisis, which can be fatal. To prevent this, the drug is usually prescribed with a tapering dosage, including a pre-dosed “dose pack” detailing a specific number of pills to take at designated times over a several-day period. Pharmacists sometimes advise that this drug can cause sleeplessness and down moods.