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LIFOSM project

Laatste wijziging: 24 januari 2022

Immunomodulating effects of LIF and OSM in multiple sclerosis


Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Niels Hellings, Researcher: Dr. Kris Janssens


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system (CNS). There is an increased production of two neuropoietic cytokines, Leukemia Inhibitory Factor (LIF) and Oncostatin M (OSM), in the lesions and cerebrospinal fluid of MS patients. Literature and previous work from our group indicates that this increased production could be a mechanism to protect the CNS from damage. In these studies, the neuroprotective effect of LIF and OSM is especially studied. The effect of these cytokines on immune cells have been tested in a much lesser extent, and therefore, are the focus of this study. First, we will be determining the level of expression of the LIF and OSM receptor on the different immune cells present the blood of MS patients and healthy individuals. Secondly, the effect of LIF and OSM on different immune cells will be determined. This will include investigating the effect of these two cytokines on antigen presentation by B-cells and monocytes, T-helper cell differentiation and degranulation of cytotoxic T-cells. To this end, PBMCs (peripheral blood mononuclear cells) will be isolated from blood from healthy volunteers and MS patients. Finally, the concentration of LIF, OSM and another member of this cytokine family, interleukin-6 (IL-6), will be determined in plasma. It is thought that LIF and IL-6 have an opposite effect on immune cells and that there is a certain balance between these two cytokines. The role of OSM in this balance is not yet known. To this end, plasma of the same MS patients and healthy controls as described previously, will be tested.


This study will provide insight into the role of LIF and OSM in the immune system and pathogenesis of MS. Moreover, this study will show whether these neuropoietic cytokines have a therapeutic value for MS.



  • Janssens K, Van den Haute C, Baekelandt V, Lucas S, van Horssen J, Somers V, Van Wijmeersch B, Stinissen P, Hendriks JJ, Slaets H, Hellings N. Leukemia inhibitory factor tips the immune balance towards regulatory T cells in multiple sclerosis. Brain Behav Immun. 2015;45:180-8.