We have investigated the influence of different hematopoietic growth factors, including granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), stem cell factor (SCF), Flt-3 ligand (Flt-3L) and thrombopoietin (TPO), on the course of relapsing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. Disease course and central nervous system histology were evaluated in all groups. When given after immunization but before either disease onset or during remission, Flt-3L, SCF and G-CSF exacerbated disease severity whereas TPO had no effect compared to non-cytokine-treated controls. When compared to controls, TPO did not exacerbate disease. We conclude that autoimmune disease severity may be affected by hematopoietic growth factors currently being employed in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation of patients with autoimmune disease. The mechanism of their effects remains unknown: it may be related to both T helper (Th) 1/Th2 skewing and/or homing of inflammatory cells to the disease-affected organ.
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