Glucocorticoids Cause Brain Damage


Oct 10, 2012
For the last few years, studies on the use of glucocorticoids ( prednisone, dexamethasone,ect) resulted in a smaller hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Causing memory loss, attention loss and lower concentration.

Glucocorticoid treatment is frequently associated with transiently impaired attention, concentration, and memory. In rare cases, cognitive changes may be prominent and may persist for substantial periods of time after steroid discontinuation. This largely unrecognized complication has been termed the "steroid dementia syndrome" and may reflect steroid neuroendangerment or neurotoxicity. Several clinical cases of this syndrome, with shared phenomenological and neuropsychological features, are presented here.
This study shows that Prednisone can actually reduce brain weight and decrease neurons.

(1) Significant reduction of brain weight [prednisone group of PD7: (0.78 +/- 0.08) g, control group: (0.89 +/- 0.08) g] and decrease of neurons numbers [(77.7 +/- 4.7) neurons per VF, control group:

(1) [b]Long-term use of ACTH or prednisone could induce brain damage. The younger the rats were, the more liable they were to the damage and more severe the damages were, and the less possibly to recover completely from the damage. 2) [/b]The pathogenesis of the brain injury induced by GC is primarily due to up-regulated Bax protein expression resulted from the enhanced ratio of Bax to Bcl-2 and increased mitochondria membrane potential, followed by Caspase enzymes activation and irreversible excessive apoptosis.

All treated patients were taking doses of 5 to 40 mg of prednisone daily for at least 1 year. The glucocorticoid-treated group performed worse than the controls on tests of explicit memory, but the groups did not differ on the implicit memory task. Multiple regression analyses suggested that elderly patients are more susceptible to memory impairment with less protracted treatment. The results of Study 2, a prospective, longitudinal study of the effects of prednisone on memory across 3 months of therapy, suggest that even acute treatment can adversely affect memory. The observed alteration in memory was not secondary to inattention, affective disturbance, generalized global cognitive decline, or severity of disease. Results reported here, combined with previous clinical and experimental reports, indicate that the risk of memory impairment should be carefully considered before initiating treatment with glucocorticoids.

Here is a study on a boy who was taking glucocorticoids, and results showed that he did worse in school than his twin bother who excelled academically, socially, and physically. When they ran a MRI of his brain it showed about 20 % smaller of the hippocampus and decrease activity of prefrontal cortex than his brother.

Glucocorticoid medications cause neurotoxicity in animals under certain circumstances, but it is not known if this occurs in humans. We present the case of a 10-year-old boy with no prior psychiatric history and no prior exposure to glucocorticoid medication who received a single 5-week course of glucocorticoids for an acute asthma flare. Beginning during steroid treatment, and persisting for over 3 years after stopping treatment, he showed a significant decline from his pre-morbid academic performance and estimated IQ, verified by longitudinally administered testing and school records. Neuropsychological tests that are sensitive to glucocorticoid-induced cognitive impairments revealed global cognitive deficits consistent with primary hippocampal and prefrontal cortical dysfunction. The patient has a fraternal twin brother, who had previously achieved academic milestones in parallel with him; the patient began falling behind his twin in academic, developmental and social areas shortly after the steroid treatment. In the 3 years since stopping steroid medication, the patient has shown gradual but possibly incomplete resolution of his cognitive deficits. Quantitative brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), performed 38 months after steroid exposure revealed no gross abnormalities, but the patient's hippocampal volume was 19.5% smaller than that of his twin, despite the patient having a larger overall intracranial volume. Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging, performed at the same time, suggested subtly decreased activity in the left posterior frontal and left parietal lobes. This case, along with others reported in the literature, suggests that certain individuals develop a "steroid dementia syndrome" after glucocorticoid treatment. Although this syndrome is uncommon, it is consistent with evolving theories of the neurotoxic or neuroendangering potential of glucocorticoids in some situations.


Nov 14, 2014
This is exactly what happens in untreated bipolar and schizoprenia. Especially shrunken hippocampi. After a year unmedicated, the very first thing I noticed, on the very first night of taking medication, was that I was able to dream again.


Aug 6, 2015
Is adrenaline a glutocorticoid? If yes then amphetamines that are supposed to enhance memory will in fact damage it? I guess this is the same with estrogens and acetylcholine...


Thread starter
Oct 10, 2012
Parsifal said:
post 116167 Is adrenaline a glutocorticoid? If yes then amphetamines that are supposed to enhance memory will in fact damage it? I guess this is the same with estrogens and acetylcholine...

No, adrenaline is not a Glucocorticoid. Though it may increase glucocorticoids through increasing free fatty acid liberation.
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