Stimulated PBMC-produced IFN-γ and TNF-α are associated with altered relapse risk in multiple sclerosis: results from a prospective cohort study.
Simpson S., Stewart N., van der Mei I., Otahal P., Charlesworth J., Ponsonby A-L., Blizzard L., Dwyer T., Pittas F., Gies P., Taylor B.
BACKGROUND: Altered reactivity of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and their production of cytokines may affect multiple sclerosis (MS) clinical course. We assessed the relationship of stimulated PBMC-produced IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-4 and IL-10 in modulating relapse risk using a prospective cohort with established relapsing-remitting MS. METHODS: Cytokine production from PBMCs taken in summer and winter was measured by ELISA. Predictors of cytokines assessed by multilevel mixed-effects linear regression. Predictors of relapse assessed by survival analysis. RESULTS: Increasing IFN-γ was associated with increasing relapse risk, while increasing TNF-α reduced relapse risk after adjusting for IFN-γ. IL-10 and IL4 were not consistently associated with relapse risk. IFN-γ's effects on relapse were greatly attenuated by immunomodulatory therapies, by summer season and by higher serum vitamin D, whereas TNF-α's inverse association with relapse was only present in these circumstances. The TNF-α inverse association with relapse was only present among persons carrying the wild-type of the functional SNP rs1800693 in TNFRSF1A that has been previously associated with MS risk. CONCLUSIONS: We found strong effects of IFN-γ and TNF-α on relapse risk, these differing by immunomodulatory therapy, season, and serum vitamin D, as well as by genotype. These results indicate altered reactivity of immune cells modulate MS disease.