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Int J Biol Sci 2012; 8(9):1227-1236. doi:10.7150/ijbs.4666

Review

Targeting Interleukin-6: All the Way to Treat Autoimmune and Inflammatory Diseases

Toshio Tanaka1,2,3, Tadamitsu Kishimoto4✉

1. Department of Clinical Application of Biologics, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan;
2. Department of Respiratory Medicine, Allergy and Rheumatic Diseases, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan;
3. Department of Immunopathology, Immunology Frontier Research Center, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan;
4. Laboratory of Immunoregulation, Immunology Frontier Research Center, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan.

Abstract

Interleukin (IL)-6, a cytokine featuring redundancy and pleiotropic activity, contributes to host defense against acute environmental stress, while dysregulated persistent IL-6 production has been demonstrated to play a pathological role in various autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases. Targeting IL-6 is thus a rational approach to the treatment of these diseases. Indeed, clinical trials of tocilizumab, a humanized anti-IL-6 receptor antibody have verified its efficacy and tolerable safety for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, Castleman's disease and systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, resulting in approval of this innovative biologic for treatment of these diseases. Moreover, a considerable number of case reports and pilot studies of off-label use of tocilizumab point to the beneficial effects of tocilizumab for a variety of other phenotypically different autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases. Elucidation of the source of IL-6 and of mechanisms through which IL-6 production is dysregulated can thus be expected to lead to clarification of the pathogenesis of various diseases.

Keywords: interleukin-6, a humanized anti-interleukin-6 receptor antibody, tocilizumab, autoimmune, inflammation.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) License. See http://ivyspring.com/terms for full terms and conditions.
How to cite this article:
Tanaka T, Kishimoto T. Targeting Interleukin-6: All the Way to Treat Autoimmune and Inflammatory Diseases. Int J Biol Sci 2012; 8(9):1227-1236. doi:10.7150/ijbs.4666. Available from http://www.ijbs.com/v08p1227.htm