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Can J Infect Dis. 1995 Jan;6(1):30-3.

Therapeutic potential for cytokine antagonists: Thalidomide and pentoxifylline in Hansen's disease.

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  • 1Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.


Cytokine antagonists are a group of drugs defined by their actions on specific cytokines. Cytokine antagonists can inhibit action of cytokines by acting directly on receptors, by affecting production of cytokines or by binding to cytokines and preventing their subsequent action. Recent evidence suggests that Hansen's disease, which is characterized by reactional states, is associated with elevated serum levels of tumour necrosis factor-α (tnf-α) and interleukin-1β during these reactional states. Thalidomide, a drug used to treat reactional states in Hansen's disease, has been reported to enhance degradation of tnf-α mrna. Pentoxifylline has also been reported to alter tnf-α mrna levels by inhibiting tnf-a transcription. Combination of these two drugs as cytokine antagonists may prove to be beneficial as therapeutic agents in the treatment of reactional states in Hansen's disease. Pentoxifylline may prove to be beneficial in the treatment of reactional states in Hansen's disease patients who are female and of childbearing age. Cytokine antagonists alone or in combination will likely fill a niche in future therapeutics.


Antagonists; Cytokine; Hansen’s disease; Pentoxifylline; Thalidomide; Tumour necrosis factor-α

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