Serum Th1 and Th2 profile cytokine level changes in patients with Graves' ophthalmopathy treated with corticosteroids.
ABSTRACT The aim of this study was to estimate the influence of corticosteroids on Th1 and Th2 serum cytokine balance in patients with GO: IFNgamma, TNFalpha, IL-4 and IL-10. Further, we tested the hypothesis of an up-regulation of Th2 immune response during successful treatment with corticosteroids to explain their beneficial effect in Graves' ophthalmopathy. Serum cytokines were detected in three groups of subjects: 20 patients with Graves' disease without ophthalmopathy (Gd), 16 patients with clinical symptoms of ophthalmopathy (GO) (CAS over 3 points, last consultation record for GO less than a year old) and 16 healthy volunteers. Corticosteroid therapy consisted of intravenous infusions of methylprednisolone (MP) (2 series, 3 g each time) and subsequent treatment with oral prednisone (60 mg per day) in a tapering schedule. The serum samples were collected 24 hours before MP, 24 hours after MP, 14 days of treatment with prednisone and at the end of corticosteroid therapy. The levels of IFNgamma, TNFalpha, IL-4 and IL-10 in the serum were determined using ELISA. Statistical significance was estimated by the Mann-Whitney U-test. Our findings show a deviation to systemic Th2 profile cytokines in Graves' disease. In patients with GO, we found a significantly increased serum IL-10 concentration. In corticosteroid-responsive patients, the balance of serum cytokines IL-4/IFNgamma, IL-4/TNFalpha, IL-10/IFNgamma and IL-10/TNFalpha increased and remained upregulated until the end of the study. In non-responders, the balance of serum cytokines studied increased after methylprednisolone but declined markedly during continuation of the therapy with prednisone. In summary, our results show that efficient corticosteroid therapy may be related to its influence on Th2/Th1 profile cytokine balance. The upregulation of serum IL-4 and IL-10 during successful treatment with corticosteroids indicate the possibility of using these cytokines as predictors of the beneficial effect of corticosteroids in Graves' ophthalmopathy.