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Serum levels of sex steroid hormones and matrix metalloproteinases after intra-articular glucocorticoid treatment in female patients with rheumatoid arthritis


Objectives: To study metalloproteinase activity and sex steroid hormone production in serum after intra-articular glucocorticoid treatment for knee synovitis.

Methods: 18 female patients with rheumatoid arthritis and synovitis of the knee with need for intra-articular glucocorticoid treatment were included in this study. Serum samples of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-1/TIMP complex and MMP-3), dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate, testosterone, oestradiol, steroid hormone binding globulin, follicle stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone were collected before injection with 20 mg triamcinolone hexacetonide, and 24 h, 48 h, 1 week and 2 weeks after injection, respectively.

Results: Serum levels of MMP-3 were significantly decreased, but MMP-1/TIMP complex was unaffected. Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate, testosterone and oestradiol levels all decreased and tended to return to baseline levels during the observation period. Steroid hormone binding globulin, follicle stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone levels were unchanged.

Conclusions: Intra-articular glucocorticoid treatment causes a temporary, but considerable suppression of sex steroid hormone secretion. The reduction of MMP-3 indicates an inhibition of the inflammatory, but probably also the cartilage destructive processes within the treated joint.

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