Glucocorticoid therapy in multiple sclerosis inhibits NF-kappaB

Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory agents that are often used to treat acute exacerbations of inflammatory conditions, such as ‘flares’ in multiple sclerosis.

In the study briefly summarized below, methylprednisolone (corticosteroid) administration in multiple sclerosis patients (pulsed therapy) resulted in clinical improvement. That clinical improvement correlated with NF-kappaB inhibition.

NF-kappaB is like a ‘master switch’ for inflammation, so it is not surprising that its inhibition leads to a reduction in acute inflammation.

The entire mechanism of action of corticosteroids remains unknown. Nearly every cell in the body has receptors for these molecules. They certainly do more than simply inhibit NF-kappaB, though how much more is uncertain, just as it is uncertain which of their many effects are most beneficial (and which harmful.)

The research below suggests that inhibition of NF-kappaB may substantially contribute to their overall efficacy in reducing inflammation.

The publication:

January, 2008

Changes in the activation level of NF-kappa B in the lymphocytes of multiple sclerosis patients receiving pulsed glucocorticoid therapy.

Summary of the abstract

Nuclear factor-kappaB activity was analyzed in 24 multiple sclerosis patients during the course of pulsed glucocorticoid therapy.

All patients responded to treatment. The pulsed therapy resulted in a decrease in the activation of NF-kappaB that correlated with clinical improvement.


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