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The influence of sex hormones on cytokines in multiple sclerosis and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis: a review.

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The female predominance of multiple sclerosis (MS) has suggested that hormonal differences between the sexes must confer some protective effect on males or enhance the susceptibility of females to this disease. There has been evidence that gonadal hormones can modulate the immune response regulated by antigen presenting cells and T cells. These cells control the immune response by the production of interacting pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. The first include the acute phase pro-inflammatory cytokines of the innate immune response as well as the T-helper 1 (Th1) cytokines, while the later contain the Th2 cytokines as well as the suppressor cytokines. There is some evidence that MS and experimental autoimmune encephalitis (EAE) are Th1 cell-mediated diseases. For this reason many studies have been done to influence the pro-inflammatory cytokine production of these Th1 cells in favour of an anti-inflammatory immune response as mediated by Th2 cells. However the role of the regulatory T cells in this context is not clearly understood. Here we review the studies concerning the role of sex hormones on the cytokine production in relation to the disease course of MS and EAE and in particular in the light of the recent revival of the regulatory T cells and their suppressive cytokines.

Keywords: immune response, cytokine production, inflammatory cytokines, anti inflammatory, evidence that, cells, cytokines, inflammatory, immune, response, production

Authored by van den Broek HH, Damoiseaux JG, De Baets MH, Hupperts RM. Department of Neurology, University Hospital Maastricht, P Debyelaan 25, PO Box 5800, 6202 AZ Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Published in Mult Scler. 2005 Jun;11(3):349-59. The full report is available online. link   A subscription to the periodical may be required.

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