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Neurology. 1998 Sep;51(3):682-9.

Interferon beta in the treatment of multiple sclerosis: mechanisms of action.

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  • 1Department of Oncology and Clinical Neurosciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Interferon beta (IFN-beta) has been shown in several clinical trials to have efficacy in MS. Its mechanism of action, however, remains unclear. In this review, several biological activities of IFN-beta are highlighted, including its inhibitory effects on proliferation of leukocytes and antigen presentation. Furthermore, IFN-beta may modulate the profile of cytokine production toward that of the anti-inflammatory phenotype, and this appears to occur in the systemic circulation and within the CNS. Finally, IFN-beta can reduce T-cell migration by inhibiting the activity of T-cell matrix metalloproteinases. These activities are likely to act in concert to account for the mechanism of IFN-beta in MS.

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