Among patients with severe community-acquired pneumonia and high initial inflammatory response, the use of the corticosteroid methylprednisolone decreased treatment failure, compared with placebo, according to a study in the February 17 issue of JAMA.

Community-acquired pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death in developed countries.

Researchers found that there was less treatment failure (defined using outcomes such as development of shock (abnormally low blood pressure), need for invasive mechanical ventilation, and death within 72 hours of treatment) among patients from the methylprednisolone group (13 percent compared with 31 percent in the placebo group). Patients who received corticosteroid treatment had a 66 percent lower odds of treatment failure.