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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Corticosteroids for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, May 2016
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (92nd percentile)
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (65th percentile)

Mentioned by

2 news outlets
8 tweeters
2 Facebook pages
2 Wikipedia pages


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634 Mendeley
Corticosteroids for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, May 2016
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd003725.pub4
Pubmed ID

Emma Matthews, Ruth Brassington, Thierry Kuntzer, Fatima Jichi, Adnan Y Manzur


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most common muscular dystrophy of childhood. Untreated, this incurable disease, which has an X-linked recessive inheritance, is characterised by muscle wasting and loss of walking ability, leading to complete wheelchair dependence by 13 years of age. Prolongation of walking is a major aim of treatment. Evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) indicates that corticosteroids significantly improve muscle strength and function in boys with DMD in the short term (six months), and strength at two years (two-year data on function are very limited). Corticosteroids, now part of care recommendations for DMD, are largely in routine use, although questions remain over their ability to prolong walking, when to start treatment, longer-term balance of benefits versus harms, and choice of corticosteroid or regimen.We have extended the scope of this updated review to include comparisons of different corticosteroids and dosing regimens. To assess the effects of corticosteroids on prolongation of walking ability, muscle strength, functional ability, and quality of life in DMD; to address the question of whether benefit is maintained over the longer term (more than two years); to assess adverse events; and to compare efficacy and adverse effects of different corticosteroid preparations and regimens. On 16 February 2016 we searched the Cochrane Neuromuscular Specialised Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL Plus, and LILACS. We wrote to authors of published studies and other experts. We checked references in identified trials, handsearched journal abstracts, and searched trials registries. We considered RCTs or quasi-RCTs of corticosteroids (e.g. prednisone, prednisolone, and deflazacort) given for a minimum of three months to patients with a definite DMD diagnosis. We considered comparisons of different corticosteroids, regimens, and corticosteroids versus placebo. The review authors followed standard Cochrane methodology. We identified 12 studies (667 participants) and two new ongoing studies for inclusion. Six RCTs were newly included at this update and important non-randomised cohort studies have also been published. Some important studies remain unpublished and not all published studies provide complete outcome data. one two-year deflazacort RCT (n = 28) used prolongation of ambulation as an outcome measure but data were not adequate for drawing conclusions. meta-analyses showed that corticosteroids (0.75 mg/kg/day prednisone or prednisolone) improved muscle strength and function versus placebo over six months (moderate quality evidence from up to four RCTs). Evidence from single trials showed 0.75 mg/kg/day superior to 0.3 mg/kg/day on most strength and function measures, with little evidence of further benefit at 1.5 mg/kg/day. Improvements were seen in time taken to rise from the floor (Gowers' time), timed walk, four-stair climbing time, ability to lift weights, leg function grade, and forced vital capacity. One new RCT (n = 66), reported better strength, function and quality of life with daily 0.75 mg/kg/day prednisone at 12 months. One RCT (n = 28) showed that deflazacort stabilised muscle strength versus placebo at two years, but timed function test results were too imprecise for conclusions to be drawn.One double-blind RCT (n = 64), largely at low risk of bias, compared daily prednisone (0.75 mg/kg/day) with weekend-only prednisone (5 mg/kg/weekend day), finding no overall difference in muscle strength and function over 12 months (moderate to low quality evidence). Two small RCTs (n = 52) compared daily prednisone 0.75 mg/kg/day with daily deflazacort 0.9 mg/kg/day, but study methods limited our ability to compare muscle strength or function.Adverse effects: excessive weight gain, behavioural abnormalities, cushingoid appearance, and excessive hair growth were all previously shown to be more common with corticosteroids than placebo; we assessed the quality of evidence (for behavioural changes and weight gain) as moderate. Hair growth and cushingoid features were more frequent at 0.75 mg/kg/day than 0.3 mg/kg/day prednisone. Comparing daily versus weekend-only prednisone, both groups gained weight with no clear difference in body mass index (BMI) or in behavioural changes (low quality evidence for both outcomes, one study); the weekend-only group had a greater linear increase in height. Very low quality evidence suggested less weight gain with deflazacort than with prednisone at 12 months, and no difference in behavioural abnormalities. Data are insufficient to assess the risk of fractures or cataracts for any comparison.Non-randomised studies support RCT evidence in showing improved functional benefit from corticosteroids. These studies suggest sustained benefit for up to 66 months. Adverse effects were common, although generally manageable. According to a large comparative longitudinal study of daily or intermittent (10 days on, 10 days off) corticosteroid for a mean period of four years, a daily regimen prolongs ambulation and improves functional scores over the age of seven, but with a greater frequency of side effects than an intermittent regimen. Moderate quality evidence from RCTs indicates that corticosteroid therapy in DMD improves muscle strength and function in the short term (twelve months), and strength up to two years. On the basis of the evidence available for strength and function outcomes, our confidence in the effect estimate for the efficacy of a 0.75 mg/kg/day dose of prednisone or above is fairly secure. There is no evidence other than from non-randomised trials to establish the effect of corticosteroids on prolongation of walking. In the short term, adverse effects were significantly more common with corticosteroids than placebo, but not clinically severe. A weekend-only prednisone regimen is as effective as daily prednisone in the short term (12 months), according to low to moderate quality evidence from a single trial, with no clear difference in BMI (low quality evidence). Very low quality evidence indicates that deflazacort causes less weight gain than prednisone after a year's treatment. We cannot evaluate long-term benefits and hazards of corticosteroid treatment or intermittent regimens from published RCTs. Non-randomised studies support the conclusions of functional benefits, but also identify clinically significant adverse effects of long-term treatment, and a possible divergence of efficacy in daily and weekend-only regimens in the longer term. These benefits and adverse effects have implications for future research and clinical practice.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 634 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United Kingdom 1 <1%
Switzerland 1 <1%
Brazil 1 <1%
Unknown 631 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 115 18%
Student > Bachelor 109 17%
Student > Ph. D. Student 65 10%
Researcher 64 10%
Student > Doctoral Student 42 7%
Other 103 16%
Unknown 136 21%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 182 29%
Nursing and Health Professions 75 12%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 59 9%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 27 4%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 27 4%
Other 105 17%
Unknown 159 25%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 25. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 09 December 2021.
All research outputs
of 21,358,488 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
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Outputs of similar age
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Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 186 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 21,358,488 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 94th percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 12,060 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 29.0. This one has done well, scoring higher than 76% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 279,856 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 92% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 186 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 65% of its contemporaries.