CHICAGO, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Weekly doses of glucocorticoid steroids such as prednisone help speed recovery in muscle injuries, a study of Northwestern University (NU) found.
The study, conducted in mice with implications for humans, also found that the weekly steroids help repair muscles damaged by muscular dystrophy.
In the study, normal mice with a muscle injury received steroids just before injury and for two weeks after the injury. Mice receiving two weekly doses of steroids after the injury performed better on treadmill testing and had stronger muscle than mice receiving a placebo.
Researchers also tested the drug in a mouse model of muscular dystrophy, since prednisone is normally given for this disease. Mice with muscular dystrophy that received weekly prednisone were stronger and performed better on the treadmill than those getting a placebo.
"We don't have human data yet, but these findings strongly suggest some alternative ways of giving a very commonly used drug in a manner that doesn't harm, but in fact helps muscle," said lead investigator Elizabeth McNally, genetic medicine professor at NU Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine physician.
Currently, a major problem of using steroids such as prednisone is they cause muscle wasting and weakness when taken long term and on a daily basis, which is a significant problem for people who take steroids for many chronic conditions, and often results in patients having to stop steroid treatments.
"It's been known that long-term daily treatment with prednisone also has the side effect of causing muscle wasting in many people," McNally said.
Then the study showed weekly doses, rather than daily ones, promote muscle repair.
The study has been published online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.