J Interferon Cytokine Res 2002 Dec;22(12):1153-66
Multiple Sclerosis Research Group, Department of Neurology, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Immunology, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX 77030.
We have proposed a unifying hypothesis of the etiopathogenesis of autoimmunity that defines autoimmunity as a type I interferon (IFN) immunodeficiency syndrome.
We have examined toxicity and potential efficacy in three phase I (type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis) and one phase II clinical trials in multiple sclerosis (MS).
In a phase I open-label trial in type 1 diabetes, ingested IFN-alpha preserved residual beta cell function in recent onset patients.
In a second phase I trial, treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with ingested IFN-alpha reduced the secretion of interleukin-1 (IL-1), a proinflammatory cytokine.
In a third phase I trial in MS, there was a significant decrease in peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) IL-2 and IFN-gamma production after ingesting IFN-alpha.
In a phase II randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial in MS, 10,000 IU ingested IFN-alpha significantly decreased gadolinium enhancements compared with the placebo group at month 5.
Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and IFN-gamma cytokine secretion in the 10,000 IU group at month 5 showed a significant decrease that corresponded with the effect of ingested IFN-alpha on decreasing gadolinium enhancements.
Ingested IFN-alpha was not toxic in any of these clinical trials.
These studies suggest that ingested IFN-alpha may have a potential role in the treatment of autoimmunity.