IFN-beta1a and IFN-beta1b have different patterns of influence on cytokines

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2004 Jun;106(3):255-8. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2004.02.010.


Multiple sclerosis is characterized by elevated levels of proinflammatory cytokines produced by Th1 cells and decreased levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines produced by Th2 cells. IFN-beta treatment shifts the immune response from the Th1 to Th2 pattern, thus enhancing the production of anti-inflammatory Th2 cytokines such as IL-4, IL-10, and decreasing the production of proinflammatory Th1 cytokines such as IFN-gamma. To determine which IFN-beta has the stronger immunomodulatory effect we compared the levels of IL-4, IL-10, and IFN-gamma of 12 relapsing-remiting MS patients treated with IFN-beta1b (Betaferon) with those of 10 patients treated with IFN-beta1a (Avonex). There were no statistically significant differences in duration of disease, number of relapses before and during treatment, and in EDSS after 2 years of treatment. After 1 year of treatment the concentration of IFN-gamma was significantly lower in the Betaferon group, and concentrations of IL-4 and IL-10 were significantly higher in the Avonex group. It appears that IFN-beta1b has a downregulatory effect on both Th1 and Th2 cytokines, while IFN-beta1a causes a shift of the cytokine profile toward the Th2 phenotype. These two IFN have different influences on the pattern of cytokines in MS: IFN-beta1a enhances the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-4 and IL-10 and IFN-beta1b decreases the production of the proinflammatory cytokine IFN-gamma.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology*
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Interferon beta-1a
  • Interferon beta-1b
  • Interferon-beta / administration & dosage
  • Interferon-beta / pharmacology*
  • Interferon-beta / therapeutic use*
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-10 / immunology
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-4 / immunology
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / drug therapy*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interferon beta-1b
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-beta
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Interferon beta-1a