Concentrations of interferon γ, tumor necrosis factor α, and interleukin-1β in the cerebrospinal fluid of children treated for tuberculous meningitis

P. R. Donald, J. F. Schoeman, N. Beyers, E. D. Nel, S. M. Carlini, K. D. Olsen, G. H. McCracken

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Concentrations of interferon γ (IFN-γ) in the lumbar cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of 30 children (mean age, 27 months) being treated for stage III (16 children) and stage II (14 children) tuberculous meningitis (TBM) were determined by ELISA. Nine children with stage III TBM and six with stage II TBM received prednisone (4 mg/kg). Concentrations of IFN-γ in 73 CSF specimens (18 from the first week of therapy, 20 from the second, 19 from the third, and 16 from the fourth) were determined. The mean concentrations were 780 pg/mL in the first week of therapy and 554 pg/mL, 529 pg/mL, and 269 pg/mL in the second, third, and fourth weeks, respectively. Tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) concentrations in 56 specimens from 23 of these same children were determined by ELISA. The mean CSF TNF-α concentration in 12 specimens obtained during the first week of therapy was 17 pg/mL, and the mean was 11 pg/mL during each of the subsequent weeks (14 specimens were evaluated in the second week and 15 specimens in the third and fourth weeks of therapy). Mean IL-1β concentrations in these same groups of specimens were 52 pg/mL, 43 pg/mL, 42 pg/mL, and 18 pg/mL. No correlation could be shown between cytokine concentration and stage of disease, and no differences existed between those who did and those who did not receive prednisone. A significant decline in IL-1β concentrations was shown during the 4-week period, but none in TNF-α or IFN-γ concentrations was noted. Persistently high CSF IFN-γ concentrations in cases of TBM (as in cases of aseptic meningitis but not bacterial meningitis) at the time of diagnosis suggest an immune response fundamentally different from that in bacterial meningitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)924-929
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1995


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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