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J Interferon Cytokine Res. 2004 May;24(5):311-7.

Plasma homocysteine and immune activation in patients with malignant melanoma undergoing treatment with IFN-alpha.

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Institute of Medical Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Innsbruck, Fritz Pregl Strasse 3, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria.


Immune activation and cell proliferation may contribute to the development of increased homocysteine concentrations in patients with malignant diseases. In this study, we investigated the effect of interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) on plasma homocysteine concentrations in patients being treated for malignant melanoma. In parallel, neopterin formation and tryptophan degradation were monitored to assess the capacity of IFN-alpha to activate macrophages. Plasma concentrations of homocysteine, folate, and vitamin B(12) were determined in 15 patients with malignant melanoma during 12 weeks of high-dose IFN-alpha therapy. Concurrently, concentrations of neopterin, tryptophan, and kynurenine were measured, and the kynurenine/tryptophan ratio (kyn/trp) was calculated. Homocysteine and folate concentrations during treatment with IFN-alpha did not differ from baseline. In contrast, significant increases in neopterin formation and tryptophan degradation were apparent during IFN-alpha therapy. Plasma concentrations of vitamin B(12) and cysteine also increased. These results indicate that IFN-alpha directly activates macrophages to release neopterin and to degrade tryptophan, but obviously treatment with INF-alpha did not affect homocysteine metabolism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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