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Trade namesOrapred, PediaPred, Millipred, others
Other names11,17-Dihydroxy-17-(2-hydroxyacetyl)-10,13-dimethyl-6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17-dodecahydrocyclopenta[a] phenanthren-3-one
  • (11β)-11,17,21-Trihydroxypregna-1,4-diene-3,20-dione
Clinical data
Drug classCorticosteroid[1]
Main usesAllergic or inflammatory conditions[1]
Routes of
By mouth, intravenous, topical, eye drop
Defined daily dose10 mg (by injection or by mouth)[3]
External links
AHFS/Drugs.comSystemic: Monograph
Eyes: Monograph
License data
Legal status
  • UK: POM (Prescription only)
  • US: ℞-only
  • In general: ℞ (Prescription only)
Elimination half-life2–3 hours
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass360.450 g·mol−1
3D model (JSmol)
  • O=C\1\C=C/[C@]4(/C(=C/1)CC[C@@H]2[C@@H]4[C@@H](O)C[C@@]3([C@@](O)(C(=O)CO)CC[C@@H]23)C)C
  • InChI=1S/C21H28O5/c1-19-7-5-13(23)9-12(19)3-4-14-15-6-8-21(26,17(25)11-22)20(15,2)10-16(24)18(14)19/h5,7,9,14-16,18,22,24,26H,3-4,6,8,10-11H2,1-2H3/t14-,15-,16-,18+,19-,20-,21-/m0/s1 checkY

Prednisolone is a steroid medication used to treat certain types of allergies, inflammatory conditions, autoimmune disorders, and cancers.[4][5] Some of these conditions include adrenocortical insufficiency, high blood calcium, rheumatoid arthritis, dermatitis, eye inflammation, asthma, and multiple sclerosis.[5] It is used by mouth, injection into a vein, as a skin cream, and as eye drops.[6][7][5]

Side effects with short-term use include nausea and feeling tired.[4] More severe side effects include psychiatric problems, which may occur in about 5% of people.[8] Common side effects with long term use include bone loss, weakness, yeast infections, and easy bruising.[5] While short-term use in the later part of pregnancy is safe, long-term use or use in early pregnancy is occasionally associated with harm to the baby.[2] It is a glucocorticoid made from hydrocortisone (cortisol).[9]

Prednisolone was discovered and approved for medical use in 1955.[9] It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines.[10] It is available as a generic medication.[5] Thewholesale cost in the developing world is about US$0.01 per 5 mg tablet.[11] In 2017, it was the 129th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than five million prescriptions.[12][13]

Medical uses

Healed Buruli ulcer, 10 months after treatment

Prednisolone is a corticosteroid drug with predominant glucocorticoid and low mineralocorticoid activity, making it useful for the treatment of a wide range of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions[14] such as asthma,[15] uveitis, pyoderma gangrenosum, rheumatoid arthritis, urticaria,[16] angioedema,[16] ulcerative colitis, pericarditis, temporal arteritis and Crohn's disease, Bell's palsy, multiple sclerosis,[17] cluster headaches, vasculitis, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and autoimmune hepatitis,[18] systemic lupus erythematosus, Kawasaki disease,[19] dermatomyositis,[6] and sarcoidosis.[20]

Prednisolone acetate ophthalmic suspension (eye drops) is an adrenocortical steroid product, prepared as a sterile ophthalmic suspension and used to reduce swelling, redness, itching, and allergic reactions affecting the eye.[21][7][22] It has been explored as a treatment option for bacterial keratitis.[23]

Prednisolone can also be used for allergic reactions ranging from seasonal allergies to drug allergic reactions.[24]

Prednisolone can also be used as an immunosuppressive drug for organ transplants.[6][25]

Prednisolone in lower doses can be used in cases of primary adrenal insufficiency (Addison's disease).[26][27]

Corticosteroids inhibit the inflammatory response to a variety of inciting agents and, it is presumed, delay or slow healing.[28] They inhibit the edema, fibrin deposition, capillary dilation, leukocyte migration, capillary proliferation, fibroblast proliferation, deposition of collagen, and scar formation with inflammation.[29]


The defined daily dose is 10 mg (parenteral) or 10 mg (by mouth).[3] The initial dose in adults is often 20 to 70 mg which is decreased to 2 to 15 mg if long term use is needed.[30] In children an initial dose of 0.5 to 2 mg/kg may be used which is decreased to 0.25 to 0.5 mg/kg if long term use is needed.[30]

Side effects

Side effects from the use of prednisolone include:[31][6]

  • Increased appetite, weight gain, nausea, and malaise
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Cardiovascular events
  • Dermatological effects including reddening of face, bruising/skin discoloration, impaired wound healing, thinning of skin, skin rash, fluid build up and abnormal hair growth
  • Hyperglycemia; patients with diabetes may need increased insulin or diabetic therapies
  • Menstrual abnormalities
  • Less response to hormones, especially during stressful instances such as surgery or illness
  • Change in electrolytes: rise in blood pressure, increased sodium and low potassium, leading to alkalosis
  • GI system effects: swelling of stomach lining, reversible increase in liver enzymes, and risk of stomach ulcers
  • Muscular and skeletal abnormalities, such as muscle weakness/muscle loss, osteoporosis (see steroid-induced osteoporosis), long bone fractures, tendon rupture, and back fractures
  • Neurological effects, including involuntary movements (convulsions), headaches, and vertigo
  • Behavioral disturbances [32]
  • Nasal septum perforation and bowel perforation (in some pathologic conditions).[33][34]

Withdrawal from prednisolone after long-term or high-dose use can lead to adrenal insufficiency.[32]

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Although there are no major human studies of prednisolone use in pregnant women, studies in several animals show that it may cause birth defects including increase cleft palate. Prednisolone should be used in pregnant women when benefits outweigh the risks and children born from mothers using prednisolone during pregnancy should be monitored for impaired adrenal function.

Prednisolone is found in breast milk of mothers taking prednisolone.[32]


As a glucocorticoid, the lipophilic structure of prednisolone allows for easy passage through the cell membrane where it then binds to its respective glucocorticoid receptor (GCR) located in the cytoplasm. Upon binding, formation of the GC/GCR complex causes dissociation of chaperone proteins from the glucocorticoid receptor enabling the GC/GCR complex to translocate inside the nucleus. This process occurs within 20 minutes of binding. Once inside the nucleus, the homodimer GC/GCR complex binds to specific DNA binding-sites known as glucocorticoid response elements (GREs) resulting in gene expression or inhibition. Complex binding to positive GREs leads to synthesis of anti-inflammatory proteins while binding to negative GREs blocks the transcription of inflammatory genes.[35]


Prednisolone is a synthetic pregnane corticosteroid closely related to its cognate prednisone, having identical structure save for two fewer hydrogens near C11. It is also known as δ1-cortisol, δ1-hydrocortisone, 1,2-dehydrocortisol, or 1,2-dehydrohydrocortisone, as well as 11β,17α,21-trihydroxypregna-1,4-diene-3,20-dione.[36][37]

Veterinary uses

Prednisolone is used in the treatment of inflammatory and allergic conditions in cats, dogs, and ferrets.

Society and culture


The wholesale cost in the developing world is about US$0.01 per 5 mg tablet.[11] In 2017, it was the 129th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than five million prescriptions.[12][13] It is not expensive.[38]


In the United States:

  • Prednisolone sodium phosphate oral solution (Pediapred)[32]
  • Prednisolone acetate oral suspension (Flo-Pred)[31]
  • Prednisolone oral tablets (Millipred)[24]
  • Prednisolone sodium phosphate oral dissolving tablets (Orapred ODT)[6]
  • Prednisolone acetate ophthalmic suspension (Omnipred, Pred Forte)[7][21][22]


As a glucocorticosteroid, unauthorized or ad hoc use of prednisolone during competition via oral, intravenous, intramuscular or rectal routes is banned under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) anti-doping rules.[39]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Single Drug Information – International Medical Products Price Guide". mshpriceguide. Archived from the original on 29 August 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Prednisolone Use During Pregnancy". 16 January 2000. Archived from the original on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "WHOCC - ATC/DDD Index". Archived from the original on 7 August 2020. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 World Health Organization (2009). Stuart MC, Kouimtzi M, Hill SR (eds.). WHO Model Formulary 2008. World Health Organization. pp. 53–54. hdl:10665/44053. ISBN 9789241547659.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 "Prednisolone". The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Archived from the original on 23 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 "Orapred ODT- prednisolone sodium phosphate tablet, orally disintegrating". DailyMed. 11 September 2019. Archived from the original on 12 May 2021. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Omnipred- prednisolone acetate suspension". DailyMed. 9 September 2019. Archived from the original on 13 May 2021. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  8. "Pevanti 10mg Tablets – Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC) – (eMC)". 1 December 2014. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Kim, Kyu-Won; Roh, Jae Kyung; Wee, Hee-Jun; Kim, Chan (2016). Cancer Drug Discovery: Science and History. Springer. p. 169. ISBN 9789402408447. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017.
  10. World Health Organization (2019). World Health Organization model list of essential medicines: 21st list 2019. Geneva: World Health Organization. hdl:10665/325771. WHO/MVP/EMP/IAU/2019.06. License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
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External links

  • "Prednisolone Ophthalmic". MedlinePlus. Archived from the original on 2 May 2020. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  • US patent 2837464, Arthur Nobile, "Process for production of dienes by corynebacteria", published 1958-06-03, issued 1958-06-03, assigned to SCHERING CORP 
External sites: