The therapeutic potential of interferon gamma (IFN gamma) in a number of disease states is still being explored, but progress is hampered by the lack of a suitable measure of in vivo biological activity. To assess the in vivo biological effects of recombinant human IFN gamma (rhIFN gamma), 14 patients were studied in a randomised, prospective, double blind, placebo controlled trial of this cytokine for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The levels of Fc gamma receptors on peripheral blood neutrophils were measured at baseline and after 21 days of once daily, subcutaneous injections of rhIFN gamma or placebo. An induction of neutrophil Fc gamma receptor type I (Fc gamma RI) was seen in the group of patients receiving recombinant human rhIFN gamma but not in those receiving placebo. No change in the expression of Fc gamma RII or Fc gamma RIII was detected. The amount of induction of Fc gamma RI detected on the neutrophils of patients receiving rhIFN gamma did not correlate with clinical measures of response at either 21 days or at the end of the study (24 weeks). No significant clinical responses were observed in the rhIFN gamma group at these times. These data confirm that the reported in vitro effect of IFN gamma on human neutrophil Fc receptor expression can be reproduced in vivo.
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