Janus kinase-targeting therapies in rheumatology: a mechanisms-based approach

Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2022 Mar;18(3):133-145. doi: 10.1038/s41584-021-00726-8. Epub 2022 Jan 5.


The four Janus kinase (JAK) proteins and seven signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) transcription factors mediate intracellular signal transduction downstream of cytokine receptors, which are implicated in the pathology of autoimmune, allergic and inflammatory diseases. Development of targeted small-molecule therapies such as JAK inhibitors, which have varied selective inhibitory profiles, has enabled a paradigm shift in the treatment of diverse disorders. JAK inhibitors suppress intracellular signalling mediated by multiple cytokines involved in the pathological processes of rheumatoid arthritis and many other immune and inflammatory diseases, and therefore have the capacity to target multiple aspects of those diseases. In addition to rheumatoid arthritis, JAK inhibition has potential for treatment of autoimmune diseases including systemic lupus erythematosus, spondyloarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and alopecia areata, in which stimulation of innate immunity activates adaptive immunity, leading to generation of autoreactive T cells and activation and differentiation of B cells. JAK inhibitors are also effective in the treatment of allergic disorders, such as atopic dermatitis, and can even be used for the COVID-19-related cytokine storm. Mechanism-based treatments targeting JAK-STAT pathways have the potential to provide positive outcomes by minimizing the use of glucocorticoids and/or non-specific immunosuppressants in the treatment of systemic immune-mediated inflammatory diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Janus Kinases
  • Rheumatology*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • STAT Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • STAT Transcription Factors
  • Janus Kinases