Author(s): Nash PT, Florin TH
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Abstract The cytokine, tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) plays a key role in the pathogenesis of many chronic inflammatory and rheumatic diseases, in particular, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis. Controlled trials have shown that the TNF inhibitors (etanercept, infliximab and adalimumab) significantly reduce symptoms and signs, improve function and quality of life, and reduce radiologically evident damage in patients with rheumatoid diseases. For reasons that are not entirely clear, etanercept does not work in Crohn's disease. Injection site and intravenous reactions and increased risk of infection (in particular, reactivation of tuberculosis) are associated with the use of these agents. Increased risk of lymphoproliferative disease, the development of lupus-like syndromes and demyelination, including optic neuritis and reactivation of multiple sclerosis, are under evaluation in long-term follow-up studies. The TNF inhibitors are expensive (about $18 000 per year), and in some patients need to be given continuously to maintain benefit, even in the presence of other immunosuppressive therapy.
This article was published in Med J Aust
and referenced in Virology & Mycology