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Ann Neurol. 1992 Jan;31(1):103-6.

Contrasting effects of alpha, beta, and gamma interferons on nonspecific suppressor function in multiple sclerosis.

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Department of Neurology, University of Chicago, IL 60637.


Interferons are biological molecules with antiviral, antiproliferative, and immunomodulatory actions. Interferon alpha (IFN-alpha) and -beta are potentially useful in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). IFN-gamma, in contrast, increases the frequency of exacerbations of MS. In this study, we compared the effect of recombinant human IFN-alpha, -beta, and -gamma on suppressor function in patients with MS. Nonspecific suppressor cell function, measured in a concanavalin A suppressor assay, was significantly decreased in 16 patients with progressive MS (mean percent suppression +/- SEM, 14.4 +/- 5.5 in patients with MS, 33.5 +/- 4.8 in 16 normal subjects; p less than 0.001). Recombinant human IFN-beta augmented suppressor function in MS to 45.4 +/- 5.1% (p less than 0.001) and in control subjects to 56.8 +/- 3.8% (p less than 0.001). Similarly, recombinant human IFN-alpha improved suppression in MS to 43.0 +/- 5.6% (p less than 0.001) and in control subjects to 51.1 +/- 5.9% (p less than 0.001). In contrast, recombinant human IFN-gamma had no effect on suppressor function in patients with MS and in control subjects. This study shows that IFN-alpha and -beta augment deficient suppressor function in MS, whereas IFN-gamma has no effect on suppressor function in the progressive phase of the disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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