J Interferon Cytokine Res 2002 Feb;22(2):245-55
Verdun E, Isoardo G, Oggero A, Ferrero B, Ghezzi A, Montanari E, Zaffaroni M, Durelli L.
Clinica Neurologica, Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Universita di Torino, Torino, Italy.
Autoimmune side effects, namely autoantibody (autoAb) occurrence and thyroid function alteration, have been described during interferon-beta (IFN-beta) treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS).
AutoAb occurrence and autoimmune thyroid diseases are also frequently detected in MS patients free of any treatment.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between IFN-beta1b treatment, autoAb occurrence, and autoimmune diseases in MS.
Thyroid and liver function and serum autoAb (antithyroid, antinuclear, antiliver, antikidney microsomes, antismooth muscle and parietal cell antigens) occurrence were evaluated in 156 relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients before and every 3 months after starting IFN-beta1b treatment (8 MIU subcutaneously [s.c.] on alternate days).
The probability of having liver or thyroid function alteration or autoAb occurrence was analyzed longitudinally with the generalized estimating equations (GEE) approach.
At baseline, 16.1% of patients had autoAb.
During treatment, autoAb occurred de novo in 7.2% of patients. GEE analysis showed that the probability of having autoAb at any time during IFN-beta1b treatment did not change significantly compared with baseline. AutoAb occurring de novo rarely persisted during treatment and significantly less than those already present at baseline.
Positivity for autoAb at baseline or during treatment was not correlated with the development of thyroid or liver function alteration during IFN-beta1b treatment.
Our study indicates that IFN-beta treatment is a safe treatment for MS patients, free of risk of autoimmunity and of associated liver or thyroid function alteration.