The IL-12 family members, IL-12, IL-23, IL-27 and IL-35, are heterodimeric cytokines that share subunits and have important roles in autoimmunity. As well as their structural relationship the IL-12 family cytokines share some biological characteristics but have functional differences. These cytokines contribute to immune-mediated inflammation and our improved knowledge of their actions has led to alteration of the T H 1-T H 2 paradigm. In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), leukocyte migration, bone erosions and angiogenesis are modulated by an IL-23-IL-17 cascade, which can be negated in part by IL-12, IL-27 and IL-35 function. However, the IL-12 family members are a relatively new area of research and data have been generated mostly at the preclinical stage. Further studies in patients with RA are, therefore, required to determine whether these cytokines are valid targets for RA therapy.
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