Effect of acute and chronic glucocorticoid therapy on insulin sensitivity and postprandial vascular function

Anjana Radhakutty, Brenda Mangelsdorf, Sophie Drake, Dorita Samocha-Bonet, Leonie Heilbronn, Malcolm Smith, Campbell Thompson, Morton Burt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Summary Objective Postprandial hyperglycaemia is associated with increased arterial stiffness and cardiovascular events. Low-dose prednisolone causes insulin resistance that typically manifests as postprandial hyperglycaemia. We investigated whether prednisolone causes postprandial vascular dysfunction in a cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Design An open interventional and cross-sectional study was undertaken. Patients and measurements Eighteen subjects with rheumatoid arthritis who had not taken oral glucocorticoids for ≥6 months were studied before and after prednisolone 6 mg/day for 7 days to determine the acute effects of prednisolone. Pre-prednisolone data were compared to 18 subjects with rheumatoid arthritis taking long-term (>6 months) prednisolone (6·5 ± 1·8 mg/day) to assess the chronic effects of prednisolone. Augmentation index (by applanation tonometry) and reactive hyperaemia index (by peripheral artery tonometry) were measured before and after a mixed-meal (10 kcal/kg, 45% carbohydrate, 15% protein, 40% fat). Insulin sensitivity was estimated by the Matsuda index and sympathetic nervous system activity from urinary noradrenaline excretion. Results Matsuda index was lower after acute (2·0 ± 1·0 vs 3·6 ± 1·1, P = 0·01) and chronic (1·9 ± 1·0 vs 3·6 ± 1·1, P = 0·04) prednisolone. Postprandial augmentation index was lower after acute prednisolone (2551 ± 197 vs 2690 ± 272%min, P ≤ 0·001), but not chronic prednisolone. There were no significant differences in reactive hyperaemia index with acute or chronic prednisolone. Noradrenaline excretion was lower after acute (54 ± 8 vs 93 ± 23 nmol/6 h, P = 0·02), but not chronic, prednisolone. Conclusions Prednisolone-induced insulin resistance is not associated with postprandial vascular dysfunction in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Reduced sympathetic activity may contribute to the reduction in postprandial arterial stiffness with acute prednisolone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-508
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Endocrinology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

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