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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Dec 6;108(49):19689-94. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1117347108. Epub 2011 Nov 21.

The role of cell type-specific responses in IFN-β therapy of multiple sclerosis.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.


The mechanism of IFN-β therapy in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) is not well understood, but induction of apoptosis in specific leukocyte subsets is likely to be important. Enhanced expression of TNFSF10 or TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) mRNA in unseparated leukocytes has been put forward as a therapeutic response marker, but it is unclear which leukocyte subsets express TRAIL. We investigated the basis of TRAIL expression in response to IFN-β by studying activation of STATs 1, 3, and 5, p38 MAPK, and NF-κB in different leukocyte subsets of patients with RRMS. Monocytes, B cells, and T cells showed substantial differences in the activation of p38 and the STATs in response to i.m. injection of IFN-β1a or stimulation in vitro. Induction of cell-surface TRAIL, analyzed in nine leukocyte subsets, was observed only on monocytes and granulocytes and correlated with the activation of p38 and/or NF-κB in these subsets only, in agreement with previous work in fibroblasts showing that the induction of TRAIL in response to IFN-β depends on the activation of p38 and NF-κB as well as STATs 1 and 2. We propose that, in myeloid cells, the differential activation of p38 and NF-κB and induction of TRAIL, which sensitizes cells to apoptosis, can help to explain differences in responsiveness to IFN-β therapy among patients with RRMS and, furthermore, that such differential patterns of activation and expression may also be important in understanding the therapeutic responses to IFN-α/β in hepatitis and cancer.

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