Q. We heard in class today that steroids are used for autoimmune diseases, and I’ve heard this before but never understood why. What is it about steroids that make them effective as immunosuppressants?
A. There are lots of mechanisms by which steroids dampen the immune response. Here are a few of them:
1. Suppression of T cells. Steroids interfere with production of cytokines (like interleukins), which are critical in the proliferation and interaction of T cells.
2. Suppression of B cells. Steroids interfere with the binding of interleukins to B cells, which means that the B cells have a hard time proliferating and making antibodies.
3. Suppression of neutrophils. Steroids inhibit just about everything that neutrophils do: adhesion, chemotaxis, phagocytosis, and the release of toxic substances.
4. Suppression of macrophages. Steroids down-regulate the expression of Fc receptors on macrophages – so macrophages are less able to phagocytose opsonized things.
5. Diminished production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Steroids inhibit cyclooxygenase and phospholipase A2, which decreases the production of pro-inflammatory arachadonic acid metabolites.
Steroids are used in a ton of different immune and inflammatory disorders, like asthma, vasculitis, arthritis, gout, multiple sclerosis, sarcoidosis, alopecia areata…the list goes on and on.
Tagsacute leukemia acute lymphoblastic leukemia acute myeloid leukemia acute promyelocytic leukemia Add new tag anemia b cells blood smear bone marrow brain tumors carcinoma cases chronic myelofibrosis chronic myeloid leukemia chronic myeloproliferative disorders coagulation cortisol cytochemistry cytogenetics essential thrombocythemia heart hemophilia immunology infection inflammation kaplan kidney laboratory tests lymphocyte lymphocytes lymphoma macrophages neoplasia neutrophil normal photoblog polycythemia vera red blood cells red cells sickle cell anemia skin squamous cell carcinoma stains student questions t cells
- salat said thanks so much, this was a perturbing question in my mind for a while but now gotten an answer. know...
- rachel said Ahh. Thank you very much!!!
- Abu Jar said Nice explanation….
- M said Thank you! You don’t know how much it helps me!! 🙂
- sai teja said Nice explanation
- Prashant waichal said Excellent and simple to the point review
- Julia said Thanks again for the clarification Dr Krafts!
- Kyaw said Thanks a million. This helps me a lot.
- Kristine said Good question – I believe so! I can’t think of an example of a type II hypersensitivity...
- gbadebo said Nice! But this brings up another question- are all examples of type II hypersensitivity reactions au...
- Dr.sunil Kumar.c. said very useful and nice explanation thank you so much…
- Luis said You are GREAT.