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Approved Research

Glucocorticoid use and brain volume changes

Principal Investigator: Mr Jorge Miguel Amaya Fernandez
Approved Research ID: 59004
Approval date: January 15th 2021

Lay summary

Long lasting exposure to the stress hormone cortisol could lead to damage of certain brain regions. Steroids that are used to fight inflammation are synthetic forms of cortisol. Many people take these steroids, sometimes for a long time.

This research aims to evaluate whether - at a population level - the long term use of these steroids has similar effects on the brain as cortisol. This will tell us whether doctors will need to be more cautious in prescribing these drugs, and whether researchers should look for alternative ways to treat inflammation.

Scope extension: We want to test the hypothesis that long-term use of glucocorticoid medication, any time during the course of life is associated with changes in brain volume, total as well as in specific regions and nuclei. We also want to test the possibility that glucocorticoid medication may alter the integrity of brain white matter tracts. Additionally, we would like to investigate whether polymorphisms of the glucocorticoid receptor that are known to result in higher or lower glucocorticoid sensitivity are associated with more or less changes in brain volumes and white matter tracts.