The incidence and diversity of chronic inflammatory diseases is increasing worldwide. However, the complexity of clinical symptoms has made it difficult to develop therapies that provide a substantial improvement for extended periods of time in a wide range of patient groups. Thus, there is a need for new therapies that target inflammatory responses without compromising immune defense. Interleukin (IL)-6, one of the first identified cytokines, has recently been recognized as a potential target in inflammatory disease. Here, I discuss how this cytokine has evolved from being a marker of inflammation to a successful target to control inflammation. I will summarize the results from the recent clinical studies using IL-6 receptor blockade, and describe potential mechanisms by which IL-6 can contribute to the progression of inflammatory diseases.
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