PLoS One. 2015;10(8):e0135441
One of the most common adverse event of interferon beta (IFNβ) therapy for multiple sclerosis is flu-like syndrome (FLS), which has been reportedly related to increased levels of cytokines such as interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α). Average cytokine levels can be affected by single nucleotide polymorphism in the gene promoter regions. To investigate whether IL-6 -174 G>C and TNF-α -376 G>A polymorphisms could be correlated to the incidence of FLS, and whether an anti-inflammatory/antipyretic therapy may influence FLS development, a prospective observational study was performed in 190 treatment naïve, multiple sclerosis patients who started IM IFNβ-1a 30mcg once weekly. The identification of IL-6 -174 G>C and TNF-α -376 G>A polymorphisms was achieved by performing an amplification-refractory mutation system. Serum IL-6 levels were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in blood samples taken before therapy and then after the first and last IFNβ-1a injection of the follow-up. FLS-related symptoms were recorded by patients once per week during the first 12 weeks of therapy into a self-reported diary. We found that patients carrying at least one copy of the C allele at position -174 in the promoter of IL-6 gene produced lower levels of IL-6 and were less prone to develop FLS, which was also less severe. On the contrary, the polymorphism of TNF-α had no effect on FLS. Patients taking the first dose of anti-inflammatory/antipyretic therapy in the peri-injection period (within 1 hour) experienced a reduced FLS severity. In conclusion, the study of IL-6 -174 G>C polymorphism would allow the identification of patients lacking the C nucleotide on both alleles who are at risk of a more severe FLS, and may be addressed to a timely and stronger anti-inflammatory/anti-pyretic therapy for a more effective FLS prevention.