Cytokines

The body’s chemical messengers, which various cells use to communicate with each other. The cytokines known as tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and interleukin-1 (IL-1) have all been implicated in the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and related diseases. Fortunately, drug manufacturers have designed drugs specifically to block the actions of these cytokines: Adalimumab (Humira), etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), and golimumab (Simponi) all fight inflammation by blocking the action of TNF; tocilizumab (Actemra) inhibits IL-6; and anakinra (Kineret) blocks IL-1.

Robert S. Dinsmoor is a medical writer and editor based in Massachusetts.

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