Cochrane Summaries

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The use of interferons for treating people with the relapsing-remitting form of multiple sclerosis

Rice GP, Incorvaia B, Munari LM., Ebers G, Polman C, D'Amico R, Parmelli E, Filippini G
Published Online: 
21 January 2009

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the nervous system which affects young and middle-aged adults. Repeated damage to the myelin sheaths and other parts of the nerves can lead to serious disability. MS may be related to the immune system. Interferons have several effects on the immune system, and act against viruses. Interferons can help to reduce disability and attacks for people with multiple sclerosis, but there is not enough evidence about their usefulness in the long term. The review of trials found that interferons administered intramuscularly or subcutaneously can lead to a moderate reduction in recurrences and disability in people who have MS with remissions. Interferon-1a administered by the oral route was not effective for prevention of relapses. Side effects were usually influenza-like symptoms, injection site-reactions, pains in the joints and muscles, fatigue and headache.