Cytokines in inflammatory brain lesions: helpful and harmful

Trends Neurosci. 1996 Aug;19(8):331-8. doi: 10.1016/0166-2236(96)10047-3.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is thought to be an autoimmune disease. In healthy individuals, the T cells of the immune system, when activated by an infectious agent, regularly traffic across an intact blood-brain barrier, survey the CNS and then leave. In MS, for reasons that are only gradually being understood, certain events in the peripheral immune response and in the brain cause some autoreactive T cells to stay in the CNS. Their presence initiates infiltration by other leukocytes and activation and recruitment of endogenous glia to the inflammatory process, ultimately leading to the destruction of myelin and the myelin-producing cell, the oligodendrocyte, and the dysfunction of axons. The key mediators in the subsequent cycles of histological damage and repair, and clinical relapse and remission are thought to be adhesion molecules, chemokines and cytokines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases / immunology
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology


  • Cytokines