More MS news articles for September 2002

Cytokines in multiple sclerosis: methodological aspects and pathogenic implications

Multiple Sclerosis, 1 October 2002, vol. 8, no. 5, pp. 396-404(9)
Özenci V.[1]; Kouwenhoven M.[1]; Link H.[1]
[1] Neuroimmunology Unit, Division of Neurology, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the leading causes of disability among young adults of Caucasian origin.

One hundred and fifty years after the first description of the disease, the cause of MS remains unknown.

Ironically, the few hypotheses concerning MS pathogenesis that are valid today were first proposed over a hundred years ago.

However, equipped with the advanced technology of molecular biology and imaging systems, we are at present progressively uncovering clues to understanding the pathogenesis of the disease.

It is clearly evident that aberrant immune responses occur in MS, and it is likely that the spectrum of cytokines produced decisively influences disease outcome.

The detrimental consequences of IFN-g and the beneficial effects of IFN-b treatment in MS support this hypothesis.

However, there are still major gaps in our knowledge of the involvement of cytokines in MS.

Numerous studies have addressed the question of cytokine levels in MS, often with conflicting results; elevated, normal and decreased levels of almost all cytokines have been reported.

This scenario most probably reflects methodological dilemmas as well as the complex biology of cytokines.

Here we focus on possible reasons for the discrepancies of results reported on cytokines in MS and summarize findings obtained in particular by the application of enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assays to cytokine studies in MS.