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Early pregnancy factor (EPF) is a secreted protein with immunosuppressive and growth factor properties. During pregnancy, it appears in maternal serum within 6-24 h of fertilization, is present for at least the first two-thirds of pregnancy in all species studied and is essential for embryonic survival. It is a homologue of chaperonin 10, a heat shock protein, but, unlike other members of this family, EPF has an extracellular role. As it has the ability to modulate CD4+ T cell-dependent immune responses, its role in treatment of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) was investigated. EAE is a CD4+ T cell-mediated disease, the best available animal model of multiple sclerosis (MS). Two models of EAE were investigated, acute EAE induced in Lewis rats by inoculation with myelin basic protein (MBP-EAE) and chronic relapsing EAE induced in SJL/J mice by inoculation with myelin proteolipid protein peptide (residues 139-151) (PLP-EAE). EPF, delivered intraperitoneally or orally to rats or intraperitoneally to mice, suppressed clinical signs of disease. Mice with PLP-EAE were also treated with interferon-beta, with and without EPF. Both EPF and IFN-beta suppressed clinical signs of EAE and, when administered together, gave greater suppression than when given separately. These findings suggest that EPF may be a potential candidate for use in treatment of MS and may be of use in combined therapy with IFN-beta.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurol Sci

Publication Date





5 - 15


Adjuvants, Immunologic, Animals, Chaperonin 10, Drug Evaluation, Preclinical, Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental, Female, Immunosuppressive Agents, Interferon-beta, Lymphocyte Activation, Mice, Myelin Basic Protein, Myelin Proteolipid Protein, Peptides, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Proteins, Rats, Rats, Inbred Lew, Suppressor Factors, Immunologic