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Effects of whole-body cryotherapy on the cytokine serum level in chronic polyarthritis

Effects of whole-body cryotherapy on the cytokine serum level in chronic polyarthritis


On the basis of an initial study it was demonstrated that T-helper lymphocytes in the peripheral blood of patients with chronic polyarthritis were reduced significantly under whole-body cryotherapy (WBCT) for up to 3 hours.

To obtain further evidence for the immunomodulatory effect of WBCT on chronically inflamed system disorders, the serum level of interleukin-I- , IL-6 and the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) were analyzed in 20 patients with established chronic polyarthritis (CP) (ARA criteria, no immunosuppressive therapy) and 10 control subjects, before and directly after 30, 60, 120 and 180 min following a minimum 1.5-minute whole-body cryotherapy at – 100°C.

The following results were obtained:

1. Significant decrease of the IL-6 serum levels in patients with CP directly after WBCT followed by a slow increase after 1 hour, but without having reached the initial value after 3 hours. No noticeable changes of the altogether low IL-6 serum level in the control group.

2. Significant increase of the IL-2 concentration in the blood after WBCT and slowly decrease to the initial value in the patient group after 3 hours. In the control group, a reverse behavior of the serum level was observed with a decrease directly after WBCT. After 180 min the initial values had partially still not been reached.

3. A slight, in some patients a distinctive decrease of the IL-1- and TNF-1097 values after WBCT was observed but without any statistic relevance due to the small patient collective.

The control group showed hardly any fluctuation of the IL-1 values and again a reverse behavior with an increase of the TNF serum level within the first hour. The examinations showed that IL-6, which increases during inflammations and in CP, is decreased significantly thus resulting in an antiphlogistic effect.

The unexpected increase of IL-2 may denote a stimulation for differentiation of T-suppressor lymphocytes.

Although a tendency for the increase of IL-1- and TNF- can be observed and therefore for the inactivation of T-cell line and tissue destruction, further studies are necessary to obtain insight into manipulation of the cytokines.

Prof. Dr. Reinhard Fricke (MD), head physician at the rheumatology clinic, St. Josef-Stift Sendenhorst, D-48324 Sendenhorst

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