Objective: To explore the influence of Astragalus membranaceus (AM) on serum cytokines, Th1, including interleukin-2 (IL-2) and gamma-interferon (gamma-IFN), and Th2, including interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-10 (IL-10), in patients with herpes simplex keratitis (HSK).
Methods: One hundred and six HSK patients were randomly divided into the AM treated group and the ribavirin treated group. Levels of serum IL-2, IL-4, IL-10 and gamma-IFN of all the patients and 62 healthy person, selected from donors for control group, were determined by sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technique.
Results: Levels of serum IL-4 and IL-10 in HSK patients were significantly higher and those of IL-2 and gamma-IFN were significantly lower than those in the healthy control (all P < 0.01). These parameters were significantly improved in the patients of the AM group after treatment, but with no change in patients of the ribavirin group.
Conclusion: AM can modulate the imbalance state of Th1/Th2 in HSK patients, improve their immune function disturbance, that shows important significance in treating HSK.