Autoantibodies in multiple sclerosis patients before and during IFN-β1b treatment: Are they correlated with the occurrence of autoimmune diseases?

E. Verdun, F. Giuliani, F. Salvi, S. Stecchi, A. Reggio, E. Reggio, E. Montanari, G. Negri, L. Ludovico, A. Ghezzi, M. Zaffaroni, G. Isoardo, G. L. Mancardi, M. Inglese, A. Carolei, R. Totaro, C. Milanese, L. La Mantia, D. Caputo, M. MiniL. Mendozzi, R. Cotrufo, A. Oggero, G. Lus, V. Cosi, A. Romani, V. Gallai, P. Sarchielli, U. Nocentini, B. Rizzato, P. A. Tonali, A. R. Massaro, G. Rosati, B. Ferrero, S. Sotgiu, P. Annunziata, P. Barbero, A. Pipieri, A. Ricci, M. Clerico, A. Bosio, M. A. Cucci, G. Aimo, L. Giorda, A. Ghezzi, F. Bortolon, G. Stenta, M. P. Sormani, U. Ecari, M. Ciampini, K. Beckmann, E. Montanari, M. Zaffaroni, Luca Durelli, M. Trojano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Autoimmune side effects, namely autoantibody (autoAb) occurrence and thyroid function alteration, have been described during interferon-β (IFN-β) treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS). AutoAb occurrence and autoimmune thyroid diseases are also frequently detected in MS patients free of any treatment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between IFN-β1b treatment, autoAb occurrence, and autoimmune diseases in MS. Thyroid and liver function and serum autoAb (antithyroid, antinuclear, antiliver, antikidney microsomes, antismooth muscle and parietal cell antigens) occurrence were evaluated in 156 relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients before and every 3 months after starting IFN-β1b treatment (8 MIU subcutaneously [s.c.] on alternate days). The probability of having liver or thyroid function alteration or autoAb occurrence was analyzed longitudinally with the generalized estimating equations (GEE) approach. At baseline, 16.1% of patients had autoAb. During treatment, autoAb occurred de novo in 7.2% of patients. GEE analysis showed that the probability of having autoAb at any time during IFN-β1b treatment did not change significantly compared with baseline. AutoAb occurring de novo rarely persisted during treatment and significantly less than those already present at baseline. Positivity for autoAb at baseline or during treatment was not correlated with the development of thyroid or liver function alteration during IFN-β1b treatment. Our study indicates that IFN-β treatment is a safe treatment for MS patients, free of risk of autoimmunity and of associated liver or thyroid function alteration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-255
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Interferon and Cytokine Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology
  • Cell Biology


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