Delayed ultraviolet erythema not suppressed by oral prednisolone: a randomized crossover study

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The anti-inflammatory potency of topical dermatological corticosteroids in suppressing ultraviolet (UV) erythema is routinely measured. No such model exists to assess the potency of systemically administered steroids.


To determine whether or not suppression of delayed UV erythema by a systemic corticosteroid could provide a useful model for assessing the anti-inflammatory potency of systemic corticosteroids.


We conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled, patient and assessor blinded, crossover study of oral prednisolone effects on the delayed UV-induced erythemal response in normal subjects. Six healthy volunteers were phototested with a xenon arc monochromator and then dosed with 30 mg of oral prednisolone or matching placebo daily for 4 days. Repeat phototesting was performed on the 4th day of dosing. The minimal erythema dose (MED) was assessed immediately after test UV doses were administered and 24 h later. After a 2-week washout period, the dosing and testing were repeated in a crossover fashion.


A suppression index (SI) [1/(baseline MED value divided by on prednisolone/placebo value)] allowed comparison of the degree of suppression on and off prednisolone. Oral prednisolone did not significantly suppress the threshold UV erythema response (MED). We may have missed small effects in this study and possibly a larger dose or a longer duration of corticosteroid would have had an effect. Possibly, assessment of corticosteroid potency in suppressing established UV erythema rather than on the development of threshold erythema would have yielded different results.


The threshold UV erythema suppression model assessed in this study could not distinguish between oral prednisolone and placebo. This UV-erythema suppression test system is not promising as a model to test the anti-inflammatory potency of systemic steroids.

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