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Short Communication Open Access
Serum amyloid A (SAA) and C-reactive protein (CRP) are two major acute phase proteins whose serum concentrations increase in response to inflammation, though the exact mechanism underlying this induction remains unknown. Dysregulated production of interleukin (IL)-6 plays a pathogenic role in various inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Castleman’s disease and systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis. IL-6 blocking therapy with an anti-IL-6 receptor antibody (tocilizumab) can ameliorate clinical symptoms and abnormal laboratory findings, and completely normalize CRP and SAA levels in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Conversely, therapy for blocking tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, another key pathogenic factor in rheumatoid arthritis, barely lowers CRP and SAA to within their normal range, suggesting that IL-6 and TNF-α play different roles in the induction of acute phase protein expression. To clarify the different pathogenic roles and mechanisms of IL-6 and TNF-α or IL-1 in the induction of CRP and SAA in chronic inflammatory diseases, we investigated the transcriptional regulation mechanisms of SAA and CRP using hepatoma-derived cell lines in vitro, and related these mechanisms to the different effects of IL-6 and TNF-α blocking therapies on serum SAA and CRP in rheumatoid arthritis patients in vivo. We propose transcriptional regulation models for inflammatory cytokine-induced SAA and CRP expression that explain why IL-6 plays an essential role in the induction of SAA and CRP in the presence of inflammation.