Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) is an inflammatory cytokine that has been implicated in a variety of rheumatic and inflammatory diseases. New understanding of the importance of TNF-α in the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease led to the development of a new class of targeted anti-TNF therapies. Anti-TNF-α agents including etanercept (a fusion protein of the p75 TNF receptor and IgG1) and infliximab (a chimeric monoclonal antibody specific for TNF-α) have been approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, infliximab has been approved in the treatment of patients with active or fistulating Crohn's disease. A new appreciation of the importance of TNF-α in other rheumatic and inflammatory diseases has led to a broadening of the application of anti-TNF agents. Both etanercept and infliximab have been used in open-label and randomized studies in patients with psoriatic arthritis. Although larger randomized trials are needed to confirm early results, both these anti-TNF-α agents, etanercept and infliximab, have demonstrated activity in improving the signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis. Infliximab has also been shown to be effective in patients with other rheumatic diseases, including ankylosing spondylitis, and may be effective in adult-onset Still's disease, polymyositis, and Behçet's disease. Further investigations will fully elucidate the role of infliximab in these and other rheumatic diseases.
Keywords: anti-tumor necrosis factor, cytokine, infliximab, rheumatic disease, tumor necrosis factor