Dexamethasone: Mechanism, Application, Side effects.


Table of Contents

What is Dexamethasone?

Figure: Chemical structure of dexamethasone | Image by: Maria Palmira Gremiao | Source:
      • In 1957, an American physician Philip Showalter Hench first made this drug.
      • Dexamethasone is corticosteroid medication (Corticosteroids are a class of steroid hormones that are produced in the adrenal cortex of vertebrates).
      • Dexamethasone used for the treatment of rheumatic problems, a number of skin diseases, severe allergies, asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease, croup, brain swelling, eye pain following eye surgery, and along with antibiotics in tuberculosis.
      • It can be used through mouth or injection into a muscle, or intravenously.
      • It takes about 1-3 days to show results.
      • It is inexpensive In the United States, less than US$25, and in India about  38.05 rupees.

Medical Use of Dexamethasone

      • Dexamethasone can be used as an Anti-inflammatory for treatments of inflammatory and autoimmune disease, for example, rheumatoid arthritis and bronchospasm.
      • Dexamethasoneoften given to cancer patients who undergoes chemotherapy, to counteract certain side effects of their antitumor treatments.
      • It is used as Endocrine, for the treatment of very rare disease glucocorticoid resistance.
      • Dexamethasone given to pregnant women from the day to one week before delivery, to promote maturation of the fetus’ lungs.
      • Dexamethasoneoften also used for the treatment of high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE), and high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE).
      • Dexamethasoneoften Intravenously given to those patients who had surgery and whose post-operative pain was treated with long-acting spinal or epidural spinal opioids to prebent the nausea and vomiting.
      • A single drop of Dexamethasone can help in speed improvement of sore throat.

Mechanism of Dexamethasone

      • Dexamethasone thought to act by the induction of phospholipase A2 inhibitory proteins, which is known as lipocortins. 
      • This is achieved first by the Dexamethasone binding to the glucocorticoid receptors.
      • Then translocates into the nucleus and binds to DNA causing various activations and repressions of genes.
      • It is postulated that these proteins control the biosynthesis of potent mediators of inflammation such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes by inhibiting the release of their common precursor arachidonic acid.
      • Arachidonic acid is released from membrane phospholipids by phospholipase A2.

Side effect of Dexamethasone

      • It can cause infection in mouth, if someone takes it by oral route.
      • Dexamethasone also can cause bone loss.
      • It can cause vision loss in eyes which is known as cataracts.
      • Dexamethasone can weaken the blood vessels and muscle, which can results easy bruising.
      • Other common side effects of Dexamethasone are; Increased appetite, Weight gain, Impaired skin healing, Depression, Hypertension, Increased risk of infection, Raised intraocular pressure, Vomiting, Dyspepsia, Confusion, Amnesia, Irritability, Nausea, Malaise, Headache, etc.

Also Read: Bacterial toxin: Definition, Types, Example.

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