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Cytokines and growth factors are involved in all important biological processes. Hence it is anticipated that they will be of importance in autoimmune disease. The pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases involves a number of stages, initiation, perpetuation and tissue damage, each of which involves different cell and molecular interactions. In this review, we will discuss an outline of the cytokine involvement in the various stages of autoimmune development, prior to focusing on the analysis of cytokines in rheumatoid arthritis. Cytokines exert their effect via high affinity cell surface receptors. Thus an understanding of cytokines involves the analysis of receptor expression, and also of cytokine inhibitors. Currently there is only adequate knowledge of these aspects in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and as such the emphasis of this review is on RA. One of the major reasons for being interested in the role of cytokines in autoimmunity is to define possible therapeutic targets. There is now considerable evidence that TNF alpha is such a target in RA, and the effect of anti TNF alpha monoclonal antibody therapy in RA is discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


Prog growth factor res

Publication Date





247 - 255


Animals, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Autoimmune Diseases, Cytokines, Humans, Mice, Mice, Transgenic, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha