Back to Journals » Drug Design, Development and Therapy » Volume 10

Spotlight on tocilizumab and its potential in the treatment of systemic sclerosis

Authors Sakkas L

Received 27 June 2016

Accepted for publication 12 July 2016

Published 29 August 2016 Volume 2016:10 Pages 2723—2728


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Wei Duan

Lazaros I Sakkas

Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Medical School, University of Thessaly, Larissa, Greece

Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a multisystem disease characterized by extensive collagen deposition in skin and internal organs, fibrointimal microvasculopathy, and activation of the immune system. T cells and B cells can promote fibrosis in SSc. Interleukin (IL)-6 is implicated in the pathogenesis of SSc. IL-6 is increased in the peripheral blood and lesional skin from patients with SSc, and induces fibroblast collagen production directly and indirectly by inducing profibrotic M2 macrophages. IL-6 also induces Th17 differentiation and promotes B cell differentiation toward Ig-producing plasma cells. IL-6 is also implicated in the pathogenesis of SSc in animal models as it is increased in mice with bleomycin-induced fibrosis, whereas neutralization of IL-6 in these mice prevents skin fibrosis. IL-6 acts on cells by binding to IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) which is transmembrane or soluble, and then recruits the signal-transducing glycoprotein 130 which is ubiquitously expressed. Tocilizumab is an anti-IL-6R humanized monoclonal antibody that blocks IL-6-mediated signaling. Tocilizumab has been approved for the treatment of moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis, for polyarticular and systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and for Castleman’s disease, and is well tolerated. Case reports and a Phase II, randomized trial in SSc have shown some improvement of skin tightness and delayed deterioration of lung function. A Phase III randomized trial in SSc is anticipated.

Keywords: biologics, B cells, fibrosis, IL-6, IL-6 receptor

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]