Inhibition of IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-α in immune-mediated inflammatory diseases
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Blockade of cytokines, particularly of tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), in immuno-inflammatory diseases, has led to the greatest advances in medicine of recent years. We did a thorough review of the literature with a focus on inflammation models in rodents on modified gene expression or bioactivity for IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-α, and we summarized the results of randomized controlled clinical trials in human disease. What we have learned herewith is that important information can be achieved by the use of animal models in complex, immune-mediated diseases. However, a clear ranking for putative therapeutic targets appears difficult to obtain from an experimental approach alone. This is primarily due to the fact that none of the disease models has proven to cover more than one crucial pathogenetic aspect of the complex cascade of events leading to characteristic clinical disease signs and symptoms. This supports the notion that the addressed human immune-mediated diseases are polygenic and the summation of genetic, perhaps epigenetic, and environmental factors. Nevertheless, it has become apparent, so far, that TNF-α is of crucial importance in the development of antigen-dependent and antigen-independent models of inflammation, and that these results correlate well with clinical success. With some delay, clinical trials in conditions having some relationship with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) indicate new opportunities for blocking IL-1 or IL-6 therapeutically. It appears, therefore, that a translational approach with critical, mutual reflection of simultaneously performed experiments and clinical trials is important for rapid identification of new targets and development of novel treatment options in complex, immune-mediated, inflammatory diseases.