Levamisole can modulate the serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha level in patients with recurrent aphthous ulcerations.J Oral Pathol Med. 2006 Feb; 35(2):111-6.JO
Recurrent aphthous ulcerations (RAU) are common oral inflammatory lesions. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha is an important inflammatory mediator and a critical cytokine for adequate host defense. Our previous studies have shown that 14-43% and 59-63% of patients in the ulcerative stage of major, minor or herpetiform RAU have significantly higher than normal serum levels of interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8, respectively. In this study, we examined whether RAU patients in the ulcerative stage had a significantly higher than normal serum level of TNF-alpha and assessed whether treatment with levamisole can modulate serum TNF-alpha levels in RAU patients.
This study used a solid phase, two-site sequential chemiluminescent immunometric assay to determine the baseline serum levels of TNF-alpha in 146 patients with RAU, nine patients with traumatic ulcers (TU), and 54 normal control subjects. Fifty-five RAU patients with serum TNF-alpha levels higher than 5.0 pg/ml were treated with levamisole for 0.5-4 months and their serum TNF-alpha levels were measured after treatment.
We found that 29% (42 of 146) RAU patients as well as 39% (24 of 61) major type, 20% (14 of 69) minor type, and 25% (four of 16) herpetiform type RAU patients had a serum level of TNF-alpha greater than the upper normal limit of 7.4 pg/ml. The mean serum level of TNF-alpha in patients with RAU (9.1 +/- 1.0 pg/ml, P < 0.001), major type RAU (11.6 +/- 1.9 pg/ml, P < 0.001), minor type RAU (6.9 +/- 0.9 pg/ml, P < 0.005), or herpetiform type RAU (9.6 +/- 2.7 pg/ml, P < 0.001) was higher than that (3.8 +/- 0.2 pg/ml) in normal control subjects. The mean serum TNF-alpha level was significantly higher in patients with major type RAU than in patients with minor type RAU (P < 0.05) and was significantly higher in major type RAU patients in the exacerbation stage than in the post-exacerbation stage (P < 0.05). In 55 RAU patients with serum TNF-alpha levels higher than 5.0 pg/ml, treatment with levamisole for a period of 0.5-4 months could significantly reduce the serum TNF-alpha level from 16.4 +/- 1.9 to 5.8 +/- 0.6 pg/ml (P < 0.001).
We conclude that a significantly higher than normal serum level of TNF-alpha can be detected in 20-39% of patients in the ulcerative stage of major, minor or herpetiform RAU. The serum TNF-alpha level may be associated with the severity and the stage of RAU. Levamisole can modulate serum TNF-alpha levels in RAU patients.