Cytokines and inflammatory bowel disease

Trop Gastroenterol. Jul-Sep 1999;20(3):97-106.


Cytokines are the key mediators of inflammation in the IBD and are focus of renewed interest to plan therapeutic strategies against this disease. However, there are gaps in our knowledge at present and a lot of questions need clear answers. Even with a therapy as specific as anti-TNF antibody, it is not clear if the benefit is attributable to simple binding and clearance of TNF-alpha or to binding on the cell surface and subsequent deletion of the activated macrophage. When a drug appears to be less effective than pre-clinical models suggest, can failures in effectiveness from delivery or dosing the differentiated? The disappointing results of clinical trials with IL-10 is at odds with the prediction of benefit from animal models. It even brings into question the validity of those models as well as the soundness of design of the clinical trials on which efficacy of IL-10 is assessed. Other exciting new methods to treat IBD could be use of monoclonal antibodies to effector T cell molecules (such as CD4 or CD44v7) removal of such cytokine secreting cells (apheresis), antibodies to proinflammatory cytokines (such as TNF-alpha, IFN-alpha, IFN-gamma, and IL-12) or administration of anti-inflammatory cytokines (such as IL-10, IL-11). Challenges in developing new therapeutic strategies include not only identifying novel agents, but also improving the definitions of clinical endpoints and defining efficacy at the biologic level. There is also need to further refine our knowledge about genetic elements and environment initiators to comprehensively manage IBD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy


  • Cytokines