Effect of interferon-beta and atorvastatin on Th1/Th2 cytokines in multiple sclerosis

Neurochem Int. 2008 Jul;53(1-2):17-21. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2008.04.004. Epub 2008 Apr 20.


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 250microg 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Atorvastatin
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Heptanoic Acids / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Interferon Type I / pharmacology*
  • Interleukin-5 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-5 / genetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Pyrroles / pharmacology
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Th1 Cells / drug effects
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism*
  • Th2 Cells / drug effects
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism*


  • Cytokines
  • Heptanoic Acids
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Interferon Type I
  • Interleukin-5
  • Pyrroles
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Atorvastatin