Cytokines are both villains and potential therapeutic targets in thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy: From bench to bedside

Expert Rev Ophthalmol. 2014 Jun;9(3):227-234. doi: 10.1586/17469899.2014.917960.


The pathophysiology underlying Graves' disease and its ocular manifestation, thyroid associated ophthalmopathy (TAO) is incompletely understood. Characterization of the mononuclear cells driving the disease and the cytokines they produce has led to significant advances in our understanding of TAO. This in turn has resulted in the identification of potentially attractive drug targets. For instance, development of inhibitors of specific cytokine pathways for use in other autoimmune diseases now presents an opportunity for their application in TAO. In this paper, we review the rationale for considering anti-cytokine therapy in TAO, evidence linking specific cytokines such as interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-α, and interleukin-17 pathways to TAO, and explore the potential for targeting of these pathways as therapy.

Keywords: Cytokines; Graves’ disease; Graves’ orbitopathy; autoimmunity; cytokines; inflammation; interleukins; thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy.