The study aimed to assess the possible systemic effects of intratympanic dexamethasone (IT-Dex) on the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, inflammation, and bone metabolism.
A prospective cohort study including 30 adult patients of a tertiary referral ENT clinic treated with 9.6 mg IT-Dex over a period of 10 days was carried out.
Effects on plasma and salivary cortisol concentrations (basal and after low-dose (1 μg) ACTH stimulation), peripheral white blood cell count, and biomarkers for bone turnover were measured before (day 0) and after IT-Dex (day 16). Additional measurements for bone turnover were performed 5 months after therapy. Clinical information and medication with possible dexamethasone interaction were recorded.
IT-Dex was well tolerated, and no effect was detected on the HPA axis (stimulated plasma and salivary cortisol concentration on day 0: 758±184 and 44.5±22.0 nmol/l; day 16: 718±154 and 39.8±12.4 nmol/l; P=0.58 and 0.24 respectively). Concentrations of osteocalcin (OC) and bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BSAP) did not differ after dexamethasone (OC on days 0 and 16 respectively: 24.1±10.5 and 23.6±8.8 μg/l; BSAP on day 0, 16, and after 5 months respectively: 11.5±4.2, 10.3±3.4, and 12.6±5.06 μg/l); similarly, there was no difference in the peripheral white blood cell count (5.7×1012/l and 6.1×1012/l on days 0 and 16 respectively).
IT-Dex therapy did not interfere with endogenous cortisol secretion or bone metabolism.