Introduction Corticosteroids are an important pillar in many anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive treatment regimens and are available in natural and synthetic forms, which are considered equipotent if clinical bioequivalence data are used. Current clinical bioequivalence data are however based on animal studies or studies with subjective endpoints. Furthermore, advancement in steroid physiology with regard to metabolism, intracellular handling and receptor activation have not yet been incorporated. Therefore, this study aims to re-examine the clinical bioequivalence and dose effects of the most widely used synthetic corticosteroids, prednisolone and dexamethasone.

Methods and analysis In this double-blind, randomised cross-over clinical trial, 24 healthy male and female volunteers aged 18-75 years, will be included. All volunteers will randomly receive either first a daily dose of 7.5 mg prednisolone for 1 week, immediately followed by a daily dose of 30 mg prednisolone for 1 week, or first a presumed clinical bioequivalent dose of 1.125 mg dexamethasone per day, immediately followed by 4.5 mg of dexamethasone per day for 1 week. After a wash-out period of 4-8 weeks, the other treatment will be applied. The primary study endpoint is the difference in free cortisol excretion in 24 hours urine. Secondary endpoints will include differences in immunological parameters, blood pressure and metabolic measurements.

Ethics and dissemination This study has been approved by the Medical Ethics Committee of the University Medical Center Groningen (METC 2020.398). The results of this study will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number061678
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26-Apr-2022


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Animals
  • Dexamethasone
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Male
  • Prednisolone
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic

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