Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Neurological effects of recombinant human interferon.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983; 286 doi: (Published 22 January 1983) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983;286:262
  1. H Smedley,
  2. M Katrak,
  3. K Sikora,
  4. T Wheeler


    Ten women with advanced locally recurrent breast cancer who had failed to respond to radiation and hormonal and cytotoxic agents were given up to 12 weeks of recombinant leucocyte interferon 20 X 10(6) U/m2 daily or 50 X 10(6) U/m2 three times a week. Within one hour of administration influenza-like symptoms began, which one week later were superseded by lethargy, anorexia, and nausea, with a consequent loss of weight in most patients. Other side effects included profound somnolence, confusion, paraesthesia, and (in one patient) signs of an upper motor neurone lesion in the legs. All these effects together with increased slow wave activity in electroencephalograms from all patients during treatment disappeared when interferon was withdrawn and did not recur on reintroducing the drug at a lower dosage. Studies are continuing to determine the mechanisms of these effects.