Acute Activation of Metabolic Syndrome Components in Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Patients Treated with Dexamethasone

Lidewij T Warris, Erica L T van den Akker, Marc B Bierings, Cor van den Bos, Christian M Zwaan, Sebastiaan D T Sassen, Wim J E Tissing, Margreet A Veening, Rob Pieters, Marry M van den Heuvel-Eibrink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Although dexamethasone is highly effective in the treatment of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), it can cause serious metabolic side effects. Because studies regarding the effects of dexamethasone are limited by their small scale, we prospectively studied the direct effects of treating pediatric ALL with dexamethasone administration with respect to activation of components of metabolic syndrome (MetS); in addition, we investigated whether these side effects were correlated with the level of dexamethasone. Fifty pediatric patients (3-16 years of age) with ALL were studied during a 5-day dexamethasone course during the maintenance phase of the Dutch Childhood Oncology Group ALL-10 and ALL-11 protocols. Fasting insulin, glucose, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides levels were measured at baseline (before the start of dexamethasone; T1) and on the fifth day of treatment (T2). Dexamethasone trough levels were measured at T2. We found that dexamethasone treatment significantly increased the following fasting serum levels (P<0.05): HDL, LDL, total cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, and insulin. In addition, dexamethasone increased insulin resistance (HOMA-IR>3.4) from 8% to 85% (P<0.01). Dexamethasone treatment also significantly increased the diastolic and systolic blood pressure. Lastly, dexamethasone trough levels (N = 24) were directly correlated with high glucose levels at T2, but not with other parameters. These results indicate that dexamethasone treatment acutely induces three components of the MetS. Together with the weight gain typically associated with dexamethasone treatment, these factors may contribute to the higher prevalence of MetS and cardiovascular risk among survivors of childhood leukemia who received dexamethasone treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0158225
Pages (from-to)e0158225
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers/metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholesterol/metabolism
  • Dexamethasone/administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Glucose/metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin/metabolism
  • Maintenance Chemotherapy
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome/chemically induced
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma/drug therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Weight Gain


Dive into the research topics of 'Acute Activation of Metabolic Syndrome Components in Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Patients Treated with Dexamethasone'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this