Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system considered to be mediated by T helper type-1 cells. Several agents have been found to modify the disease course of MS, including interferon-β1 (IFN-β1), glatiramer acetate mitoxantrone. We have employed pulse therapy with cyclophosphamide in a selected group of patients with actively progressive disease. Chemokine receptors have been found to differentiate between polarized T helper type-1 (Th1) and type-2 (Th2) lymphocytes. The chemokine receptors CCR5 and CXCR3 are expressed primarily on Th1 cells and CCR3, CCR4 and CCR8 on Th2 cells. Previous studies of the expression of chemokine receptors in MS have shown that active MS plaques are infiltrated by CCR5+ and CXCR3+ T cells. Some of these T cells may express both CCR5 and CXCR3. These T cells are major producers of IFN-γ, which worsens the clinical condition of patients with MS. We previously found that patients with MS had a high proportion of CXCR3 + T cells and that those with chronic progressive MS had a high proportion of CCR5+ T cells in their peripheral blood. We report here that in patients with secondary progressive MS, cyclophosphamide induces a marked increase in the percentage of CCR4+ T cells that produce high levels of IL-4 and reverses the increase in the percentages of IFN-γ-producing CCR5+ and CXCR3+ CD8+ T cells. Furthermore, therapy with cyclophosphamide increases IL-4-producing CD4+ T cells and reverses the increase in IFN-γ-producing CD8+ T cells. Our study shows that cyclophosphamide has immunomodulatory properties besides its suppressive effects, and that chemokine receptors can be important tools both for understanding the immune dysregulation in MS and for monitoring response to therapy.
- Chemokine receptors
- Multiple sclerosis