noun, plural: dexamethasones
Dexamethasone is one of the examples of a glucocorticoid. A glucocorticoid is a substance involved in the carbohydrate metabolism. For instance, it promotes gluconeogenesis, i.e. the metabolic process in which glucose is formed from non-carbohydrate precursors. It may be produced naturally (mainly, by the adrenal cortex) or synthetically. It exerts action to the cell by binding to the glucocorticoid receptor.
Dexamethasone is a glucocorticoid with a chemical formula of C22H29FO5. It is structurally similar to betamethasone. The difference between them is the orientation of the methyl group at position-16. Betamethasone has a 16β-methyl group whereas dexamethasone has 16α -methyl group. Similar to betamethasone, dexamethasone is produced synthetically.
Dexamethasone is a steroidal anti-inflammatory agent. It is used as a medication for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma, dermatosis, inflammatory conditions, allergies, brain swelling, croup, and chronic obstructive lung disease. It is also given to pregnant women with increased risk to preterm labor as it accelerates fetal lung maturity. However, compared with betamethasone, dexamethasone is less potent in accelerating fetal lung maturity.
Dexamethasone can be given by mouth, by local injection, or intravenously. Possible side effects are bone loss, cataracts, petechiae, muscle weakness, thrush, acne, insomnia, weight gain, depression, hypertension, increased risk of infection, irritability, nausea, etc.
Dexamethasone is an agonist of the specific nuclear steroid receptor. It is also capable of interfering with NF-kB activation.