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J Neuroimmunol. 1996 Feb;64(2):193-200.

Pentoxifylline, a phosphodiesterase inhibitor, induces immune deviation in patients with multiple sclerosis.

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Laboratory of Neurobiology, Department of Neurology, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Germany.


The outcome of immune responses can be predicted by the lymphokine production pattern of the participating cells. Cytokines of the T helper type 1 (Th1) cells mediate inflammatory responses and delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH), whereas Th2-like T cells predominantly produce cytokines, which stimulate antibody production by B cells. Immunoregulatory therapy of autoimmune diseases with unknown antigens may be achieved by inhibiting the production of inflammatory cytokines and induction of protective cytokines of Th2-like T cells. To determine the immunoregulatory capacity of the phosphodiesterase inhibitor pentoxifylline (PTX), which is known to suppress the production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), this drug was used in mitogen and antigen-stimulated lymphocyte cultures as well as in patients with multiple sclerosis. PTX significantly decreased TNF-alpha and interleukin-12 (IL-12), whereas it increased IL-4 and IL-10 production. In addition, PTX inhibited cell proliferation, which was associated with a marked reduction in CD25 (IL-2 receptor alpha-chain) and CD54 (intercellular adhesion molecule-1; ICAM-1) expression. Increasing doses of PTX significantly reduced TNF-alpha and IL-12 mRNA expression of blood mononuclear cells, but increased IL-4 and IL-10 expression in eight patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. These results indicate that PTX modulates immune reactions favouring a Th2-like response and may therefore be useful for the treatment of autoimmune diseases with a dominant Th1-like T cell response.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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