How Do Anti-Inflammatory Agents Work?

Reviewed on 11/1/2021

How do anti-inflammatory agents work?

Anti-inflammatory agents are glucocorticoid medications used to control inflammation in many inflammatory diseases. Anti-inflammatory agents modulate the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and maintenance of fluid and electrolyte homeostasis (stable condition).

Anti-inflammatory agents work in multiple ways to prevent inflammation which include the following:

  • Control the rate of protein synthesis.
  • Prevent migration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN), types of white cells such as neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils that release inflammatory substances and promote inflammation.
  • Break up the aggregation of PMN.
  • Prevent migration of fibroblasts, cells that form an extracellular matrix, the supportive structure that cells attach to, to form tissue.
  • Reduce capillary permeability to prevent leakage of inflammatory cells and proteins (cytokines) from reaching the inflammation site.
  • Inhibit the release of pro-inflammatory substances such as prostaglandin and cytokines.
  • Suppress proliferation of lymphocytes.
  • Inhibit mitosis, the process of cell division.
  • Stabilize the membranes of cells, and lysosomes, the organelles inside cells that contain digestive enzymes.
  • Increase the synthesis of surfactant, a natural substance in the lungs that lowers surface tension in the liquid/air interface in the air sacs (alveoli) and prevents them from collapsing.
  • Improve pulmonary microcirculation.


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How are anti-inflammatory agents used?

Anti-inflammatory agents may be administered through the following routes:

The uses of anti-inflammatory agents include the following:



Off-label uses:

Pediatric uses


Off-label uses:

  • Respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants
  • Pneumocystis (carinii) jiroveci pneumonia (a fungal infection in AIDS patients)
  • Severe lupus nephritis

What are side effects of anti-inflammatory agents?

Side effects of anti-inflammatory agents may include the following:

Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

What are names of some anti-inflammatory agents?

Generic and brand names of anti-inflammatory agents include:


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