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More MS news articles for July 2003

Role of cytokines in neurological disorders

Curr Med Chem. 2003 Oct;10(19):1931-7
Aarli JA.
Department of Neurology, University of Bergen, Norway

The balance between cytokines with pro- and anti-inflammatory effects contributes to the course of the Guillain-Barre syndrome and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.

TNFalpha seems to be an important factor in the cascade of events leading to demyelination and even axonal damage.

During the acute phase, the serum concentrations of TNFalpha and IL-6 are elevated while anti-inflammatory cytokines are up-regulated in the recovery phase.

Cytokines also have a key role in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis and most data suggest that this effect is mediated by myelin-specific CD4 T lymphocytes secreting Th type 1 cytokines.

However, several different immune cells including B lymphocytes, CD8 T lymphocytes and NK T lymphocytes are also involved in the pathogenesis.

Both Th1 and Th2 lymphocytes and cytokines probably participate in the development of myasthenia gravis (MG).

The IFNalpha production is probably related to the severity of the disease, with clinical improvement associated with decreased production.

The serum levels of IL-18 are significantly elevated in MG, with highest concentrations in patients with generalized disease.

The immune system may be involved in the pathogenesis of AD by the effect of microglia, which can induce microglial activation with subsequent release of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

In parkinsonism, there is evidence of chronic inflammation in the substantia nigra and striatum.

Activated microglia, producing proinflammatory cytokines, surround the degenerating dopaminergic neurons and may contribute to the dopaminergic neuron loss.

Studies of patients with epilepsy and animals with experimentally induced seizures indicate that cytokines may also influence the electrophysiological properties of neurons.