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J Immunol. 1992 Oct 1;149(7):2496-505.

Analysis of cytokine mRNA expression in the central nervous system of mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis reveals that IL-10 mRNA expression correlates with recovery.

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Department of Immunology, Immunex Corporation, Seattle, WA 98101.


Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) serves as an important animal model for understanding the events that lead to immune-mediated inflammation and tissue destruction within the central nervous system. We have utilized a murine adoptive transfer model of EAE and semiquantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis to examine cytokine mRNA expression within the central nervous system in relation to the onset and resolution of paralysis associated with EAE. Spinal cord samples, obtained from mice as they progressed through discrete clinical stages of EAE, were examined for the expression of six cytokine genes (IL-1 alpha, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, and IFN-gamma). Distinct patterns of cytokine gene expression were observed during the acute, recovery, and chronic phases of EAE. The acute phase of disease was characterized by rapid increases in the levels of mRNA for IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IFN-gamma, and IL-1 alpha. In fact, peak expression of several cytokine mRNA (e.g., IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, and IFN-gamma) occurred before the peak in clinical severity. In contrast, IL-1 alpha mRNA levels were elevated throughout the initial disease course. IL-10 mRNA demonstrated only modest increases during the acute phase of EAE. Stabilization of the clinical symptoms was characterized by rapid declines in the mRNA levels of IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, and IFN-gamma. The decreases in these four cytokine mRNA levels occurred concomitant with a dramatic rise in IL-10 mRNA. Finally, of the six cytokine mRNA examined, only IL-1 alpha, IFN-gamma, and IL-10 mRNA remained elevated during the early chronic stage. These results suggest that local cytokine production varies significantly during the course of EAE and that increases in discrete sets of cytokines are associated with the acute response and the recovery/chronic phase of disease.

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