Glucocorticoids, used primarily as anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory drugs, are also effective, alone or combined with other antiemetics, for preventing nausea and vomiting. Dexamethasone, one of the glucocorticoids, has been suggested as a first-line drug for preventing low-level emetogenic chemotherapy- and radiotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and in patients with only one or two risks for postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV). Dexamethasone combined with 5-HT3 or tachykinin NK1 antagonists is also suggested for higher-level emetogenic chemotherapy and radiotherapy and for patients at high risk for PONV. Glucocorticoids may act via the following mechanisms: (1) anti-inflammatory effect; (2) direct central action at the solitary tract nucleus, (3) interaction with the neurotransmitter serotonin, and receptor proteins tachykinin NK1 and NK2, alpha-adrenaline, etc.; (4) maintaining the normal physiological functions of organs and systems; (5) regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis; and (6) reducing pain and the concomitant use of opioids, which in turn reduces opioid-related nausea and vomiting.
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