Effect of interferon-beta and atorvastatin on Th1/Th2 cytokines in multiple sclerosis.
Beneficial effects by both interferon-beta and statin treatment in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) may be linked to interference with the Th1/Th2 cytokine balance. We determined patterns of Th1/Th2 cytokines (interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-2, IL-6, IL-12p70, tumor-necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and interferon-gamma, and IL-4, IL-5 and IL-10, respectively) in the serum of patients with relapsing-remitting MS treated with 250mug interferon-beta 1b or with interferon-beta plus 40mg atorvastatin. In treatment naïve patients with MS, a trend for lower TNF-alpha serum levels compared to controls was detected (P=0.08). Interferon-beta treatment increased TNF-alpha levels, while a trend for lowering of IL-5 serum levels was found (P=0.07). Addition of atorvastatin raised IL-12p70 serum levels (P<0.05). Mean levels of two Th2 cytokines (IL-4, IL-10) showed a non-significant increase after addition of atorvastatin. We conclude that interferon-beta and atorvastatin exert divergent action on Th1/Th2 serum cytokines levels in MS. Supplemental atorvastatin might promote a Th1-type response by raising IL-12p70. Further studies are required to support a Th2 cytokine shift by atorvastatin in patients with MS.