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Autoimmun Rev. 2007 Sep;6(8):529-36. Epub 2007 Apr 16.

Potential target of infliximab in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

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  • 1Rheumatology Unit, L. Sacco Hospital, University of Milan, Via GB Grassi 74, 20157 Milan, Italy.


Tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is a pro-inflammatory cytokine produced by many cell types (blood monocytes, macrophages, mast cells and endothelial cells), that play a key role in the pathogenesis of multiple autoimmune and nonautoimmune disorders. A number of large placebo-controlled trials have shown that infliximab, a chimeric monoclonal antibody against TNF-alpha, is effective and well tolerated in patients with Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and spondiloarthritides and has become a widely used treatment for these diseases. Preliminary data suggest that several forms of vasculitis appear responsive to TNF antagonists: Behçet's disease, Churg-Strauss vasculitis, polyarteritis nodosa, and giant cell arteritis, among others. Wegener's granulomatosis and sarcoidosis have been shown to improve with infliximab. Polymyositis/dermatomyositis may also be responsive to TNF blockade. TNF likely plays little role in Sjögren's syndrome as evidenced by the lack of efficacy of TNF antagonists. There is a rationale for using TNF blockade even in systemic lupus erythematosus, a prototype of autoantibody-mediated disease, and a pilot study seems to confirm this potential effective approach. A number of other more rare disorders also may be responsive to TNF blockade. We here review the current and prospective roles of infliximab in the treatment of autoimmune diseases and other conditions.

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