BACKGROUND: A shifted balance between T helper 1 (Th1)-type and Th2-type
cytokines has been hypothesised in cervical dysplasia. AIMS: To evaluate
possible deregulation of the cytokine network by estimating the expression
of peripheral cytokines in different stages of cervical disease and in
relation to the presence or absence of high risk human papillomavirus
(HR-HPV). METHODS: Twenty one HR-HPV positive women with high grade
cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN II-III) and 12 patients with
invasive cervical carcinoma formed the study groups. Two control groups
consisted of 10 HR-HPV positive and 11 HR-HPV negative women without CIN.
Differences in leucocyte subgroups were evaluated by a differential
leucocyte count. Plasma concentrations of tumour necrosis factor alpha
(TNFalpha), TNFalpha receptors TNFRI and TNFRII, interferon gamma
(IFNgamma), interleukin 2 (IL-2), IL-12, IL-4, and IL-10 were determined
by enzyme linked immunosorbent assays. RESULTS: Leucocyte counts in
patients with CIN III and carcinoma were significantly higher than in
controls. Plasma IFNgamma concentrations were significantly lower in
patients with CIN III and carcinoma than in women with CIN II or controls.
Plasma concentrations of IL-12, IL-2, IL-4, and TNFalpha did not differ
significantly between groups, but significantly lower plasma
concentrations of TNFRII were found in CIN III and carcinoma compared with
CIN II. IL-10 was detected with increased frequency in the plasma of
patients with CIN III and carcinoma. CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate
that a shift to a Th2-type cytokine pattern during the carcinogenesis of
cervical cancer occurs in women with CIN III lesions.