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Corticosteroids in the treatment of dengue shock syndrome

Authors Rajapakse S, Rodrigo C, Maduranga S, Rajapakse AC

Received 19 February 2014

Accepted for publication 17 March 2014

Published 22 May 2014 Volume 2014:7 Pages 137—143


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Senaka Rajapakse,1 Chaturaka Rodrigo,1 Sachith Maduranga,1 Anoja Chamarie Rajapakse2

1Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka; 2Kings Mill Hospital, Sherwood Forest NHS Foundation Trust, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, UK

Abstract: Dengue infection causes significant morbidity and mortality in over 100 countries worldwide, and its incidence is on the rise. The pathophysiological basis for the development of severe dengue, characterized by plasma leakage and the “shock syndrome” are poorly understood. No specific treatment or vaccine is available, and careful monitoring and judicious administration of fluids forms the mainstay of management at present. It is postulated that vascular endothelial dysfunction, induced by cytokine and chemical mediators, is an important mechanism of plasma leakage. Although corticosteroids are potent modulators of the immune system, their role in pharmacological doses in modulating the purported immunological effects that take place in severe dengue has been a subject of controversy. The key evidence related to the role of corticosteroids for various manifestations of dengue are reviewed here. In summary, there is currently no high-quality evidence supporting the beneficial effects of corticosteroids for treatment of shock, prevention of serious complications, or increasing platelet counts. Non-randomized trials of corticosteroids given as rescue medication for severe shock have shown possible benefit. Nonetheless, the evidence base is small, and good-quality trials are lacking. We reiterate the need for well-designed and adequately powered randomized controlled trials of corticosteroids for the treatment of dengue shock.

Keywords: dengue, dengue shock, shock, corticosteroids, vascular leak, thrombocytopenia

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