Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2003 Aug;28(6):780-95
Antonijevic IA, Steiger A.
Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany
Acute exacerbations of multiple sclerosis (MS) are commonly treated with high doses of corticosteroids that can influence sleep regulation and hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) activity.
We examined the sleep-EEG (including conventional and spectral EEG analysis) in 9 female patients with relapsing-remitting MS (and no psychiatric disorder) just prior to and on days 2 and 10 of high dose corticosteroid treatment (500 mg/day methylprednisolone given IV for 5 days, then PO taper down) and age-matched healthy female controls.
Before treatment with corticosteroids, MS patients compared to controls showed few changes of the sleep EEG, namely a significant increase in slow wave sleep (SWS) and a decrease in stage 2 sleep.
In contrast, on day 10, but not day 2 of treatment, MS patients showed a number of sleep-EEG changes typically observed in patients with depression, including a reduction in REM latency, an increase in REM density, a decrease in the SWS and delta sleep ratio and a decrease in sigma EEG activity.
However, no concomitant effect of treatment on mood was noted.
In summary, unlike acute treatment with methylprednisolone, prolonged treatment induces several changes of the sleep-EEG in MS patients, that are also observed in patients with an acute depressive episode.
Further prospective studies with longer-term follow-up are needed to examine the clinical relevance of our preliminary data.