Which medications in the drug class Corticosteroids are used in the treatment of Multiple System Atrophy?

Updated: Oct 17, 2018
  • Author: André Diedrich, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Specific agents in this class have salt-retaining (mineralocorticoid) properties.


Fludrocortisone has been a mainstay of pressor therapy for the last 50 years. It is a powerful mineralocorticoid that is largely devoid of a glucocorticoid effect when it is administered in low to moderate doses (0.1-0.3 mg). This agent can initially increase blood volume, which tends to normalize after the first week. Most patients gradually (over 2 wk) gain weight (usually 5-8 lb), with mild ankle edema occurring as a result of sodium retention, primarily in the extravascular compartment.

Much of the drug's benefit depends on support from tissue edema to the venous capacitance bed in the lower abdomen and extremities. With edema, the venous bed accommodates only a low volume of blood in the upright posture. The effect, in turn, improves blood return to the heart and, therefore, functional capacity. In addition to its direct effect through extravascular fluid accumulation, fludrocortisone increases alpha1-adrenoreceptor sensitivity by about 50%. During therapy, the renin-angiotensin system is suppressed (as expected).

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