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Nat Rev Immunol. 2018 Dec;18(12):773-789. doi: 10.1038/s41577-018-0066-7.

Recent insights into targeting the IL-6 cytokine family in inflammatory diseases and cancer.

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Division of Infection and Immunity, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK.
Systems Immunity, University Research Institute, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK.
Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases, Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.
Department of Molecular and Translational Science, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.


The IL-6 family of cytokines consists of IL-6, IL-11, IL-27, IL-31, oncostatin M (OSM), leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF), ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), cardiotrophin 1 (CT-1) and cardiotrophin-like cytokine factor 1 (CLCF1). Membership of this cytokine family is defined by usage of common β-receptor signalling subunits, which activate various intracellular signalling pathways. Each IL-6 family member elicits responses essential to the physiological control of immune homeostasis, haematopoiesis, inflammation, development and metabolism. Accordingly, distortion of these cytokine activities often promotes chronic disease and cancer; the pathological importance of this is exemplified by the successful treatment of certain autoimmune conditions with drugs that target the IL-6 pathway. Here, we discuss the emerging roles for IL-6 family members in infection, chronic inflammation, autoimmunity and cancer and review therapeutic strategies designed to manipulate these cytokines in disease.


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