Objectives Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system, and is generally considered to be mediated by T helper (Th) 1/Th17 cells. Interferon-β (IFNβ) is widely used as a disease-modifying MS drug, but its effects on Th17 cells are still disputed. Furthermore, the effects of IFNβ on Th9 cells have not been elucidated. The present study aimed to clarify the effects of IFNβ on cytokines/growth factors in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and cytokine-producing Th cells in peripheral blood.
Methods First, the frequency of IFNγ, interleukin (IL)-17A, IL-9, and IL-4-producing Th cells in peripheral blood lymphocytes was analyzed by flow cytometry in 34 MS patients and 15 healthy volunteers enrolled in the cytokine-producing Th cell study. Second, levels of 27 cytokines/growth factors in the CSF were measured using a multiple fluorescence bead-based immunoassay in 34 MS patients enrolled in the cytokines/growth factors study.
Results We found a significantly higher frequency of IL-4-IL-9+CD4+ T cells and lower frequency of IFNγ+IL-17A-CD4+ cells in peripheral blood lymphocytes in the 10 MS patients who had received IFNβ than in the 24 MS patients who had not received IFNβ or the 15 healthy controls (P < 0.05). The seven MS patients who received IFNβ showed significantly lower IL-17A levels in CSF than did the 27 MS patients who had not received IFNβ (P < 0.05).
Conclusions The present results suggest the suppression of IL-17A production in the central nervous system and augmentation of Th9 cells in the peripheral blood by IFNβ in MS patients.
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