Physiology of cytokine pathways in rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Feb;45(1):101-6. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(200102)45:1<101::AID-ANR90>3.0.CO;2-7.


This review has summarized the physiology of some cytokine pathways in RA, emphasizing the redundant and synergistic nature of this network. However, it is important to understand that this system is self-regulating through the action of anti-inflammatory cytokines, opposing cytokines, cytokine receptor antagonists, and possibly naturally occurring antibodies to cytokines (Figure 1). Disease results when an imbalance in the cytokine network develops, either from excess production of pro-inflammatory cytokines or from inadequate presence of natural anti-inflammatory mechanisms. The current therapeutic approaches to RA that are aimed at restoring this balance include the use of monoclonal antibodies to TNFalpha, soluble TNFalpha receptors, and IL-1Ra. Other therapeutic agents that interfere with the cytokine network are in various stages of preclinical and clinical evaluation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology*
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Humans
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Cytokines
  • RNA, Messenger