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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jan 21;94(2):599-603.

Increased interleukin 12 production in progressive multiple sclerosis: induction by activated CD4+ T cells via CD40 ligand.

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  • 1Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system postulated to be a cell-mediated autoimmune disease in which interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) plays an important role. There is increased IFN-gamma secretion in MS, and IFN-gamma administration induces exacerbations of disease. We found that interleukin 12 (IL-12) was responsible for raised IFN-gamma secretion in MS as anti-IL-12 antibodies reversed raised anti-CD3-induced IFN-gamma in MS patients to normal levels. Furthermore, we found a marked increase in T cell receptor-mediated IL-12 secretion in progressive MS patients vs. controls (24.8 +/- 7.7 pg/ml vs. 1.5 +/- 1.0 pg/ml, P = 0.003) and vs. relapsing-remitting patients (3.7 +/- 1.4 pg/ml, P < 0.05). Investigation of the cellular basis for raised IL-12 demonstrated that T cells from MS patients induced IL-12 secretion from non-T cells, and that T cells from MS patients could even drive non-T cells from normal subjects to produce increased IL-12. Anti-CD40 ligand antibody completely blocked IL-12 secretion induced by activated T cells, and we found increased CD40 ligand expression by activated CD4+ T cells in MS patients vs. controls. The CD40 ligand-dependent Th1-type immune activation was observed in the progressive but not in the relapsing-remitting from of MS, suggesting a link to disease pathogenesis and progression and providing a basis for immune intervention in the disease.

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