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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2009 (2009), Article ID 979258, 20 pages
Review Article

Cytokines and Cytokine Profiles in Human Autoimmune Diseases and Animal Models of Autoimmunity

1Comprehensive Center for Inflammation Medicine, University of Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, 23538 Lübeck, Germany
2Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology, University of Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, 23538 Lübeck, Germany

Received 28 February 2009; Revised 13 July 2009; Accepted 10 August 2009

Academic Editor: Philipp M. Lepper

Copyright © 2009 Manfred Kunz and Saleh M. Ibrahim. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The precise pathomechanisms of human autoimmune diseases are still poorly understood. However, a deepened understanding of these is urgently needed to improve disease prevention and early detection and guide more specific treatment approaches. In recent years, many new genes and signalling pathways involved in autoimmunity with often overlapping patterns between different disease entities have been detected. Major contributions were made by experiments using DNA microarray technology, which has been used for the analysis of gene expression patterns in chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, among which were rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis, systemic sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, and type-1 diabetes. In systemic lupus erythematosus, a so-called interferon signature has been identified. In psoriasis, researchers found a particular immune signalling cluster. Moreover the identification of a new subset of inflammatory T cells, so-called Th17 T cells, secreting interleukin (IL)-17 as one of their major cytokines and the identification of the IL-23/IL-17 axis of inflammation regulation, have significantly improved our understanding of autoimmune diseases. Since a plethora of new treatment approaches using antibodies or small molecule inhibitors specifically targeting cytokines, cellular receptors, or signalling mechanisms has emerged in recent years, more individualized treatment for affected patients may be within reach in the future.