Send to

Choose Destination
Neurology. 2007 Jun 12;68(24 Suppl 4):S8-11.

Interferon-beta: mechanism of action and dosing issues.

Author information

Multiple Sclerosis Center, University of Pennsylvania, Three West Gates Building, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


In patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), activation of immune cells and breakdown of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) lead to demyelination and axon injury. Although repairing damage to neurons is not possible, immunomodulating therapies can reduce the inflammatory processes that lead to demyelination. Interferon-beta (IFN-beta) is a polypeptide, normally produced by fibroblasts, that has antiviral and antiproliferative effects. Binding of IFN-beta to its receptor induces a complex transcriptional response. In immune cells (the most likely target of IFN-beta's therapeutic effect in MS), IFN-beta reduces antigen presentation and T-cell proliferation, alters cytokine and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression, and restores suppressor function. Therapeutic forms of IFN-beta can be produced in bacterial expression systems (IFN-beta1b) or in mammalian cells (IFN-beta1a). These forms have some differences in their amino acid sequence and posttranslational modifications, but the transcriptional response to IFN- beta1b and IFN-beta1a appears to be similar, if not indistinguishable. However, the biological response and the clinical effect do vary with changes in the dosing frequency of IFN-beta. In clinical trials, IFN-beta1a IM administered weekly elicits a transient biological response compared to IFN-beta1b administered SC every other day or IFN-beta1a (administered SC three times per week). Comparative clinical trials suggest that the differences in the biological response are clinically meaningful: more frequent IFN-beta administration produces superior clinical responses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center