As critical regulators of numerous cell signaling pathways, tyrosine kinases are implicated in the pathogenesis of several diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In the absence of disease, synoviocytes produce factors that provide nutrition and lubrication for the surrounding cartilage tissue; few cellular infiltrates are seen in the synovium. In RA, however, macrophages, neutrophils, T cells and B cells infiltrate the synovium and produce cytokines, chemokines and degradative enzymes that promote inflammation and joint destruction. In addition, the synovial lining expands owing to the proliferation of synoviocytes and infiltration of inflammatory cells to form a pannus, which invades the surrounding bone and cartilage. Many of these cell responses are regulated by tyrosine kinases that operate in specific signaling pathways, and inhibition of a number of these kinases might be expected to provide benefit in RA.
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