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Curr Drug Targets. 2019 Aug 21. doi: 10.2174/1389450120666190821161259. [Epub ahead of print]

TNF-α and IL-6: the link between immune and bone system.

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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, 610041, P. R.. China.


Osteoimmunology is a new subject which focuses on the communication between the immune and the skeletal systems. Both the immune system and bone communicate with each other. Pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) play important roles in immune responses and bone metabolism. TNF-α and IL-6 enhance macrophage activation and antigen presentation, as well as regulating immunity through different mechanisms. A variety of groups have reported that TNF-α suppresses osteoblasts activity at some stages of differentiation and stimulates osteoclast proliferation and differentiation. In contrast, IL-6 mediates the actions of osteoblasts and osteoclasts through sophisticated mechanisms, which reflect dual effects. Both TNF-α and IL-6 can mediate the activity of osteocytes. Furthermore, both TNF-α and IL-6 are important pathogenic factors related to immune-mediated bone diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and postmenopausal osteoporosis. This review will discuss the contradictory findings concerning TNF-α and IL-6 in osteoimmunology and their potential for clinical application.


IL-6; TNF-α; osteoblast; osteoclast; osteocyte; osteoimmunology

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