Abstract: Glucocorticoid resistance or insensitivity is a major barrier to the treatment of several common inflammatory diseases-including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and acute respiratory distress syndrome; it is also an issue for some patients with asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Several molecular mechanisms of glucocorticoid resistance have now been identified, including activation of mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathways by certain cytokines, excessive activation of the transcription factor activator protein 1, reduced histone deacetylase-2 (HDAC2) expression, raised macrophage migration inhibitory factor, and increased P-glycoprotein-mediated drug efflux.
Patients with glucocorticoid resistance can be treated with alternative broad- spectrum anti-inflammatory treatments, such as calcineurin inhibitors and other immunomodulators, or novel anti-inflammatory treatments, such as inhibitors of phosphodiesterase 4 or nuclear factor kappaB, although these drugs are all likely to have major side-effects. An alternative treatment strategy is to reverse glucocorticoid resistance by blocking its underlying mechanisms.
Some examples of this approach are inhibition of p38 MAP kinase, use of vitamin D to restore interleukin-10 response, activation of HDAC2 expression by use of theophylline, antioxidants, or phosphoinositide-3-kinase-delta inhibitors, and inhibition of macrophage migration inhibitory factor and P-glycoprotein.
Barnes PJ, et al. Glucocorticoid resistance in inflammatory diseases. Lancet. 2009 May 30;373(9678):1905-1917.