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Int Immunopharmacol. 2008 Jun;8(6):881-6. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2008.02.003. Epub 2008 Mar 5.

Treatment with type I interferons induces a regulatory T cell subset in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from multiple sclerosis patients.

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  • 1Clinical Trials Division, Center for Biological Research, PO. Box: 6332, Havana 10 600, Cuba.


Type I Interferon (IFN-alpha/beta) therapy has altered the natural course of multiple sclerosis. In this paper we evaluate the possible molecular mechanisms involved in the in vitro effects of IFN-alpha/beta on peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with clinically definite Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. The total RNA from IFN-alpha, IFN-beta treated cells and untreated cells was extracted and amplified for CD86, CD28, CTLA-4, TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, CCL2, CCR5, IL-13, MMP-9, TIMP-1, CD25, TGF-beta, IL-10 and the transcriptional factor Foxp3 by Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction and the CD4+CD25high subset was evaluated using flow cytometry. In general, there were no significant differences concerning the modulation of the genes studied in the response to IFN-alpha and IFN-beta treatments, which suggest a similar mechanism of action for both interferons. However, we found a significant increment in IFN-gamma expression after IFN-alpha but not after IFN-beta treatments. The in vitro treatment of mononuclear cells from multiple sclerosis patients with both interferons significantly increased the CD25 mRNA. Furthermore, we observed a CD25/Foxp3 correlation and an increment of the CD4+CD25high subset, indicating that the induction of regulatory T cells could be a crucial mechanism involved in the type I interferon effects.

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