DALLAS Oct. 14, 2008 Adding corticosteroids to traditional antimicrobial therapy might help people with pneumonia recover more quickly than with antibiotics alone, UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists have found.
Unlike the anabolic steroids used to bulk up muscle, corticosteroids are often used to treat inflammation related to infectious diseases, such as bacterial meningitis. Used against other infectious diseases, however, steroid therapy has been shown to be ineffective or even harmful.
In a study available online and in a future issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases, researchers at UT Southwestern show that mice infected with a type of severe bacterial pneumonia and subsequently treated with steroids and antibiotics recovered faster and had far less inflammation in their lungs than mice treated with antibiotics alone.
"Some people might think that if you give steroids, it would counteract the effect of the antibiotic," said Dr. Robert Hardy, associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics and the study's senior author. "But it turns out you need the antibiotic to kill the bug and the steroid to make the inflammation in the lung from the infection get better. The steroids don't kill the bugs, but they do help restore health."
Pneumonia is a lung infection typically characterized by breathing difficulties and spread by coughing and sneezing. Symptoms include headache, fever, chills, coughs, chest pain, sore throat and nausea. Pneumonia caused by the Mycoplasma pneumoniae bacterium is generally a less severe form of the disease that can occur in any age group. It accounts for 20 percent to 30 percent of all community-acquired pneumonia cases.
In the current study, mice infected with the M pneumoniae bacterium were treated daily with a placebo, an antibiotic, a steroid, or a combination of the antibiotic and steroid in order to investigate the effect on M pneumoniae-induce
|Contact: Kristen Holland Shear|
UT Southwestern Medical Center