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Cytokines in chronic rheumatic diseases: is everything lack of homeostatic balance?

Carlo Chizzolini1*, Jean-Michel Dayer2 and Pierre Miossec3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Immunology and Allergy, University Hospital and School of Medicine, Geneva University Hospital, 1211 Geneva 14, Switzerland

2 School of Medicine, University of Geneva, rue Michel Servet 1, 1211 Geneva 14, Switzerland

3 Department of Immunology and Rheumatology, Hospital Edouard Herriot, University of Lyon, 69437 Lyon, France

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2009, 11:246  doi:10.1186/ar2767

Published: 14 October 2009


Biological systems have powerful inbuilt mechanisms of control intended to maintain homeostasis. Cytokines are no exception to this rule, and imbalance in cytokine activities may lead to inflammation with subsequent tissue and organ damage, altered function, and death. Balance is achieved through multiple, not mutually exclusive, mechanisms including the simultaneous production of agonist and antagonistic cytokines, expression of soluble receptors or membrane-bound nonsignaling receptors, priming and/or reprogramming of signaling, and uncoupling of ligand/receptor pairing from signal transduction. Insight into cytokine balance is leading to novel therapeutic approaches particularly in autoimmune conditions, which are intimately linked to a dysregulated cytokine production.