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Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2013 Sep;22(9):1123-32. doi: 10.1517/13543784.2013.813931. Epub 2013 Jun 27.

Investigational cytokine-targeted therapies for ulcerative colitis.

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  • 1University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Department of Systems Medicine, Via Montpellier 1, Rome, 00133, Italy.



Up to one-third of patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) do not respond to standard medications, including mesalamine, steroids and thiopurines. The recognition that UC-related pathological process is the result of an altered balance between inflammatory and counter-regulatory signals, mostly mediated by cytokines, has led to the development of novel compounds, which are now ready to move into clinical practice. This article summarizes the recent data on the development and use of compounds either inhibiting inflammatory cytokines or enhancing the activity of counter-regulatory cytokines in patients with UC and murine models of UC.


A PubMed search was performed using the following keywords: 'ulcerative colitis', 'therapy', 'treatment' and 'cytokine'. In addition, ongoing clinical trials were checked and compounds were searched on the website of pharmaceutical companies.


Several investigational cytokine-based therapies have provided promising results in attenuating clinical activity in patients with UC and mice with experimental colitis. However, clinical and immunological heterogeneity of UC patients, therapy-related side effects and redundant biological functions of cytokines represent potential pitfalls and should be considered in optimizing therapeutic strategies.

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