The Many Faces of Interleukin-6: The Role of IL-6 in Inflammation, Vasculopathy, and Fibrosis in Systemic Sclerosis PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 20:39
Theresa C. Barnes,Marina E. Anderson, and Robert J.Moots
Received 1 June 2011; Accepted 21 July 2011

Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a connective tissue disease characterised by fibrosis, vasculopathy, and immunological abnormalities. Over recent years, it has become clear that inflammation plays a crucial role in mediating the pathophysiological process underlying SSc, especially early in the disease. Endothelial cell activation and dysfunction are central to the disease pathogenesis, may be driven by a proinflammatory environment, and may result in the generation of a profibrotic phenotype.

Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a pleiotropic cytokine. In addition to its role in the acute phase response, IL-6 has diverse roles in driving chronic inflammation, autoimmunity, endothelial cell dysfunction, and fibrogenesis. Therefore, it is currently attracting a great deal of interest in the rheumatology community as a potential therapeutic agent in SSc, a disease which at present lacks treatments directed at the underlying pathogenesis.

Recent evidence has suggested that IL-6 may play important roles in endothelial cell dysfunction and fibrogenesis in this disease, and clinical trials are currently being designed to further explore whether Tocilizumab, a monoclonal antibody directed against the IL-6 receptor, may be of therapeutic benefit to patients with SSc.

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