Humanized Antihuman IL-6 Receptor Antibody, Tocilizumab

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Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a pleiotropic cytokine that regulates immune responses and inflammatory reactions. Overproduction of IL-6 has been shown to play a role in inflammatory autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and, therefore, an agent blocking IL-6 actions can be a therapy of these diseases. IL-6 belongs to a cytokine family, which shares the cytokine receptor subunit glycoprotein (gp) 130. This family also includes IL-11, oncostatin-M, and leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF). In the IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) system, both a membrane-bound IL-6R and a soluble form of IL-6R are able to mediate IL-6 signals into the cells through the interaction of gp130. Tocilizumab is a humanized antihuman IL-6 receptor antibody designed using genetic engineering technology. Tocilizumab recognizes both the membrane-bound and the soluble form IL-6R and specifically blocks IL-6 actions. Tocilizumab is expected to ameliorate the autoimmune inflammatory diseases with IL-6 overproduction and has been clinically developed as a therapeutic agent for RA, systemic-onset and articular types of JIA, Crohn's disease, etc. Tocilizumab has been shown to be effective not only for improving signs and symptoms but also for preventing joint destruction of RA. Immunopharmacology and clinical benefit of tocilizumab in RA is addressed.