Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by polyarticular symmetrical arthritis. Inflammatory mediators targeting joint structures produce joint inflammation with pain, functional loss, joint destruction and permanent deformity. Currently, no cure for RA exists but the increasing use of combination therapy and immunomodulatory agents has led to improved quality of life and long-term outlook for many of these patients. While traditionally employed therapies have provided limited disease suppression, advances in our understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of RA have resulted in new therapies targeting very specific components of the inflammatory process. These new treatments have shown very promising results with improved efficacy and an overall decreased toxicity profile. This review provides an overview for practicing clinicians of the current immunosuppressive therapies in RA with an emphasis on newer biological agents regarding their mechanisms of action, efficacy, side effects and monitoring recommendations. Developing therapeutics will be briefly discussed.
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