Interleukin-12 is reduced in cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia

J Neurol Sci. 2006 Nov 15;249(2):110-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2006.05.063. Epub 2006 Jul 14.


Interleukin-12 is a heterodimeric cytokine produced by activated blood monocytes, macrophages and glial cells. It enhances differentiation and proliferation of T cells and increases production of proinflammatory cytokines, such as Interferon-gamma and Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha. There is little information about the involvement of IL-12 in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other tauopathies.

Objectives: The objective of our study was to assess the role of IL-12 as a potential marker of immune reactions in patients with AD and frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

Patients and methods: We measured by immunoassay cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) IL-12 levels in 19 patients with AD and 7 patients with FTD in comparison with CSF IL-12 levels in 30 patients with non-inflammatory neurological diseases served as neurological control patients (NCTRL). IL-12 levels were correlated with age, age of disease onset, disease duration, MMSE score, and rate of dementia progression. Abeta42 and Total tau (tau(T)) levels in CSF were also measured.

Results: Patients with AD had significantly lower CSF IL-12 levels compared with NCTRL patients (p<0.001). Patients with FTD had also lower CSF IL-12 levels compared with NCTRL patients (p<0.05). Age, sex, disease duration and MMSE score did not affect IL-12 levels in any of the groups. In AD a significant positive correlation was noted between IL-12 levels and tau(T) levels (Rs=0.46, p=0.048).

Conclusions: Our findings may suggest a reduced inflammatory reaction during the course of AD and FTD. A neurotrophic role of IL-12 and other proinflammatory cytokines cannot be excluded.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Dementia / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-12 / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • tau Proteins / cerebrospinal fluid


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • MAPT protein, human
  • tau Proteins
  • Interleukin-12