OVERVIEW OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS AND ITS TREATMENT USING INTERFERON BETA
ResumoIntroduction: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic and progressive inflammatory disease of the central
nervous system. It is most frequently found in women aged between 20 and 40. In Brazil, there are
about 35,000 people with MS; the highest incidence is in the south and southeast of the country.
Objectives: This paper outlines the general aspects of MS and highlights the improvements in treatment
which have been achieved. Materials and methods: The data were collected from scientific articles
published between 2000 and 2015 through the CAPES, MedLine and PubMed platforms of national and
international research. The following keywords were used: multiple sclerosis, interferon beta, and
treatments. Results and discussion: It is believed that MS is the result of a combination of genetic
predisposition and an unknown environmental factor, which causes a self-injurious character
dysfunction of the immune system in relation to white matter. This results in the loss of
oligodendrocytes and myelin and, consequently, failures in the conduction of nerve impulses, which
leads to the appearance of symptoms. This demyelination affects multiple regions of the neuraxis, which
explains the variety of clinical manifestations of MS. Diagnosis is performed by imaging and clinical
manifestations. The relapsing-remitting form of disease is prevalent among patients with MS; it occurs
in 70-80% of cases and is characterized by exacerbations followed by a variable degree of improvement
of the neurological deficit, which may be complete or which may evolve as a residual symptomatic
dysfunction. Treatment with beta interferon (IFN?) has shown success in the remission of symptoms.
These proteins act in cellular, antiviral and antiproliferative functions and also in immunoregulation.
IFN? continues to be one of the most used medicines in relation to the relapsing-remitting form of MS
due to its ability to modulate the activity of T and B cells, its effects on the blood-brain barrier, and its
neuroprotective role, which induces the release of growth factor of astrocytes or enhances the
protection of the neurons themselves. IFN? is used to treat outbreaks; to prevent future exacerbations
and the subsequent progression of disease; and also in the treatment of complications. Although the
mechanisms by which IFN? achieves its therapeutic effects are poorly understood, this drug has a good
safety profile, transient side effects, and it is well tolerated by patients. Studies have shown that the use
of IFN? in patients with the relapsing-remitting form of MS showed a tendency to reduce the frequency
and severity of outbreaks and a slower progression of the disease in a significant proportion of treated
patients. Final considerations: MS is a treatable disease and neurological disabilities can be prevented
or delayed with the use of specific drugs. Due to the increasing use of IFN? in the treatment of MS, it is
recommended that further research and more case studies are performed to gain additional
information about progress in treatments using IFN?, as well as carrying out close monitoring of these
patients in order to prevent the complications described in the literature.
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