Gianna Melillo
Aug. 31, 2022

“Since these medications are widely used, awareness of these associations is necessary across medical specialties and research into alternative treatment options is warranted.”

A new study published in The BMJ found a link between systemic and inhaled glucocorticoids— medications commonly taken for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)— and structural and volume changes in brain gray and white matter.
Results are based on a cross-sectional study conducted among 779 individuals who took the medications and 24,106 controls enrolled in the UK Biobank between 2006 and 2010.
Of the patients included in the biobank, 222 used systemic glucocorticoids and 557 took inhaled glucocorticoids. Systemic glucocorticoids are taken either orally or with an injection.
“Both systemic and inhaled glucocorticoid use are associated with decreased white matter integrity and limited changes in [gray matter volume],” researchers wrote. White matter plays a role in neuronal connectivity and brain signaling, they added.

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