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Ther Adv Neurol Disord. 2008 Sep;1(2):125-41. doi: 10.1177/1756285608095144.

Neutralizing antibodies against interferon-Beta.

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Danish Multiple Sclerosis Research Center Department of Neurology 2082, Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.


The development of neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) is a major problem in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients treated with interferon-beta (IFN-ß). Whereas binding antibodies (BAbs) can be demonstrated in the vast majority of patients, only a smaller proportion of patients develop NAbs. The principle in NAb in vitro assays is the utilization of cultured cell lines that are responsive to IFN-ß. The cytopathic effect (CPE) assay measures the capacity of NAbs to neutralize IFN- ß's protective effect on cells challenged with virus and the MxA induction assay measures the ability of NAbs to reduce the IFN-ß-induced expression of MxA, either at the mRNA or the protein level. A titer of >20 neutralizing units/ml traditionally defines NAb posi-tivity. NAbs in high titers completely abrogate the in vivo response to IFN-ß, whereas the effect of low and intermediate titers is unpredictable. As clinically important NAbs appear only after 9-18 months IFN- ß0 therapy, short-term studies of two years or less are unsuitable for evaluation of clinical NAb effects. All long-term trials of three years or more concordantly show evidence of a detrimental effect of NAbs on relapses, disease activity on MRI, or on disease progression. Persistent high titers of NAbs indicate an abrogation of the biological response and, hence, absence of therapeutic efficacy, and this observation should lead to a change of therapy. As low and medium titers are ambiguous treatment decisions in patients with low NAb titres should be guided by determination of in vivo mRNA MxA induction and clinical disease activity.


antiinterferon antibodies; binding antibodies; bioactivity; interferon-beta; multiple sclerosis; neutralizing antibodies

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