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Keywords:

  • experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis;
  • interferon-β;
  • interleukin-16;
  • multiple sclerosis;
  • Th17 cells;
  • treatment

Objectives

There is convergent evidence for an important role of interleukin-16 (IL-16) in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS). IL-16 serves as a chemoattractant for different immune cells that are involved in developing lesions. Here, we compared IL-16 levels of MS patients and controls and addressed the long-term effect of IFN-β, the most common immunomodulatory MS therapy, on IL-16 serum levels in MS patients over 2 years. Beyond this, we analysed the expression of IL-16 in two CD4+ T-cell subsets, Th1 and Th17 cells, which are important autoimmune mediators and affected by IFN-β treatment, derived from myelin-specific T-cell transgenic mice.

Materials and methods

IL-16 serum levels of 17 controls and of 16 MS patients before therapy and at months 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 12 and 24 during IFN-β1a therapy were determined by ELISA. MRI was performed before therapy, at months 12 and 24. IL-16 expression of in vitro differentiated murine myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)-specific Th1 and Th17 cells was quantified by real-time PCR.

Results

Before therapy, MS patients showed significantly elevated IL-16 levels compared with controls irrespective of disease activity determined by MRI. Therapy with IFN-β1a led to a significant linear decrease in IL-16 serum levels beginning after 2 months. MOG-specific Th17 cells expressed more IL-16 than Th1 cells.

Conclusions

Reduction in increased IL-16 levels may be of relevance for the therapeutic effect of IFN-β1a in MS. Easily accessible IL-16 serum levels hold a potential as biomarker of treatment efficacy in MS.