It has been reported that cytokines play an important role in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS). The aim of this study was to evaluate the serum levels of interleukin (IL)-18, IL-23 and IL-17 in Chinese patients with MS. We compared the serum concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-18, IL-23 and IL-17 in 39 patients with MS and 39 healthy controls matched with sex and age. Serum cytokines were measured by FlowCytomix, a kind of cytometric bead-based assay. Correlations between the serum levels of the three cytokines and disability (expanded disability status scale, EDSS), disease duration, current age and age at onset were examined. Serum concentrations of all IL-18, IL-23 and IL-17 were significantly higher in MS patients than healthy controls. There were no significant differences of the three cytokines' levels between female and male healthy controls, while the serum IL-18 level was observed significantly higher (P=0.049) in male MS patients than female MS patients. No significant correlations were observed between any of the three cytokines' levels and EDSS, disease duration and current age. However, IL-23 was found negatively correlated with age at onset in male MS patients (rs=-0.775, P=0.041). Our data suggest that all IL-18, IL-23 and IL-17 may be involved in the pathogenesis of MS. However, the relationships of the three cytokines and clinical characteristics of MS need to be further investigated in the future. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
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