More MS news articles for May 2002

Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function and cytokine production in multiple sclerosis with or without interferon-beta treatment

Acta Neurol Scand 2002 May;105(5):372-7
Limone P, Ferrero B, Calvelli P, Rizzo PD, Rota E, Berardi C, Barberis AM, Isaia GC, Durelli L.
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Turin, Turin, Italy, Department of Neurosciences, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.

Objectives -

Pro-inflammatory cytokines mediate brain damage in multiple sclerosis (MS); they can also influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function. We evaluated the possible abnormalities of HPA axis function in relapsing-remitting MS (RR-MS).

Material and methods -

IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha and IL-6 production by ex-vivo lymphocytes from 10 normal volunteers and 10 RR-MS patients before and during IFN-beta therapy was assessed; pituitary-adrenal function was evaluated by means of CRH and ACTH stimulation tests.


In untreated patients the production of IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha, IL-6 was increased, and was significantly decreased by IFN-beta. Neither basal, nor stimulated ACTH, cortisol, DHEA, DHEAs, 17-alpha-OH-progesterone levels differed between controls and RR-MS patients, both before and during treatment. Moreover, no correlation was found between endocrine and immune parameters.


In MS the HPA axis function seems normal and not influenced by IFN-beta treatment. This result is discussed in relation to the increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines found in this disease.