Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is the most common rheumatic childhood disease; its onset is before 16 years of age and it persists for at least 6 weeks. JRA encompasses a heterogeneous group of diseases that is classified according to 3 major presentations: oligoarthritis, polyarthritis, and systemic onset diseases. These presentations may originate from the same or different causes that involve interaction with specific immunogenetic predispositions, and result in heterogeneous clinical manifestations. An arthritic joint exhibits cardinal signs of joint inflammation, such as swelling, pain, heat, and loss of function; any joint can be arthritic, but large joints are more frequently affected. Extra-articular manifestations include high fever, skin rash, serositis, and uveitis. The first 2 types of JRA are regarded as T helper 1 (Th1) cell-mediated inflammatory disorders, mainly based on the abundance of activated Th1 cells in the inflamed synovium and the pathogenetic role of proinflammatory cytokines that are mainly produced by Th1 cell-stimulated monocytes. In contrast, the pathogenesis of systemic onset disease differs from that of other types of JRA in several respects, including the lack of association with human leukocyte antigen type and the absence of autoantibodies or autoreactive T cells. Although the precise mechanism that leads to JRA remains unclear, proinflammatory cytokines are thought to be responsible for at least part of the clinical symptoms in all JRA types. The effectiveness of biologic therapy in blocking the action of these cytokines in JRA patients provides strong evidence that they play a fundamental role in JRA inflammation.
Keywords: Juvenile arthritis, Child, Cytokines, Inflammation