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Pentoxifylline: is it useful in multiple sclerosis?
INTRODUCTION.Pentoxifylline (PTX) is a phosphodiesterase inhibitor which has been found in studies in vitro to inhibit the production of Th-1 cytokines. It has been postulated that it might be used as a possible coadjuvant treatment for interferon in patients with multiple sclerosis. This would also reduce the potential side effects of interferon. OBJECTIVE. To show the efficacy of PTX in reducing the side effects of interferon, and in the functional improvement of these patients.
PATIENTS AND METHODS. We studied 18 patients with remitting-relapsing multiple sclerosis over a period of 18 months; nine patients were given PTX and interferon 800 mg/day simultaneously, and nine patients were treated with interferon alone. The clinical condition was evaluated every three months using the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and the Neurological Score (NRS) scales.
RESULTS. We found no statistical improvement in the clinical course of EDSS and NRS in either group of patients after treatment for 18 months. The patients treated with PTX have fewer secondary effects due to interferon (fever and myalgia) during the first three months, but these differences between the groups subsequently disappear. In two patients PTX caused transient gastralgias and nauseas.
CONCLUSIONS. PTX may be useful as a coadjuvant drug with interferon during the first three months of treatment since some of the side effects of interferon may thus be reduced. However, there seems no justification for using PTX for a longer period since there is no functional improvement.
Multiple sclerosisPentoxifyllineEsclerosis múltiple