Cytokines and brain function: Relevance to interferon-α-induced mood and cognitive changes

Julio Licinio, M. A. Kling, P. Hauser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)


Cytokines such as interferon-α (IFN-α) are increasingly being exploited as biologic response modifiers to treat cancer. However, treatment with IFN-α can adversely affect mood and cognition, causing depression, memory disturbances, and other signs of central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction. The genes encoding cytokines and their receptors are expressed in the CNS under both resting and stimulated conditions, and cytokines can affect key brain functions. The physiologic effects of IFN-α therapy on the CNS are probably a consequence of the activation of a complex cascade of secondary cytokines both in the periphery and within the CNS. We review the neurobiology of cytokines and outline some of the potential mechanisms by which alterations of cytokine expression in the CNS could contribute to cognitive dysfunction and mood disorders during IFN-α therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-38
Number of pages9
JournalSeminars in Oncology
Issue number1 SUPPL.
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 12 Mar 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology

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