Multiple Sclerosis, 1 May 2002, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 229-236(8)
Erkut ZA; Endert E; Huitinga I; Swaab DF
 Netherlands Institute for Brain Research, Meibergdreef 33, Amsterdam 1105 AZ, The Netherlands  Laboratory of Endocrinology, Department of Clinical Chemistry, Academical Medical Center of Amsterdam University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity is altered in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), resulting in elevated basal levels and enhanced response of cortisol in stimulation tests.
HPA axis hyperactivation in MS is thought to be the result of complex interactions of genetic, immunologic, and neuroendocrinological mechanisms.
In order to investigate whether cytokine levels in the central nervous system are associated with the activation of the HPA axis in MS, we measured cortisol, interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10 and TNF- levels in postmortem cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of 18 patients with severe MS and 50 controls.
We also investigated the cortisol and cytokine levels in the CSF of a group of MS patients and controls who died with sepsis, in order to see whether acute infectious situations affect the association between cortisol and cytokines.
The cortisol levels in MS patients were increased by 80% in comparison to controls (p=0.008).
There was no difference in IL-6 levels between the groups, while IL-10 and TNF- levels of the majority of subjects were below detection limits.
There was a positive correlation between cortisol and IL-6 only in control patients with sepsis (r=0.89, p=0.019), but not within the MS patients with sepsis or MS and control groups without sepsis.
Cortisol levels in postmortem serum and CSF were highly correlated (r>0.78, p<0.001).
We concluded that the basal level of cortisol is significantly increased in the CSF of MS patients and that IL-6 is not responsible for this rise.
The relationship between cortisol and IL-6 in sepsis is discussed.
© 2002 ingenta