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What Is Certolizumab?

By Maggie J. Hall
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Certolizumab pegol belongs to a class of drugs known as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors. Physicians often prescribe it for patients with Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Certolizumab and other immunosuppressant, or antineoplastic, medications inhibit the events that occur during an immune system response, producing potentially dangerous side effects. The medication is not generally recommended for persons with certain chronic conditions.

Cells throughout the body secrete TNF, which signals fibroblasts, macrophages, and thymus immune cells, inducing an inflammatory response. TNF also inhibits microorganism replication and tumor development. Certolizumab is a monoclonal antibody, and researchers believe that it neutralizes TNF both in the blood and after the factors attach to receptor sites. Following an injury, cells release the TNF protein, which activates receptors sites and sends immune cells and immune-related chemicals to the injured area. This reaction generally produces inflammation, pain and swelling.

Health care providers usually prescribe the medication for Crohn’s disease after the affliction fails to respond to other treatment. Certolizumab inhibits TNF, shutting down the body’s normal signaling system that produces inflammatory responses. It may also be prescribed for patients suffering the effects of rheumatoid arthritis. Prior to receiving a prescription for this medication, patients must inform their physician of any chronic or infectious conditions. This is important because the medication inhibits the entire immune system, not just the immune responses that contribute to the disease.

Individuals with diabetes, congestive heart failure, or multiple sclerosis may experience a worsened condition while taking certolizumab. The medication is not generally prescribed for patients diagnosed with any form of cancer. Studies indicate that children and teens who use the drug may develop life-threatening forms of cancer, even with no prior history of the disease. The inhibitive effects of certolizumab also contribute to the proliferation of any underlying bacterial, fungal, or viral infections.

As with any type of medication, there is the possibility of an allergic reaction. Patients who take certolizumab should monitor and report any signs or symptoms of infection. Adverse effects commonly associated with certolizumab include fever accompanied by a cough and sore throat. Some patients may develop nasal and sinus symptoms, along with joint pain, and a frequent need to urinate.

Serious side effects that require medical intervention include swelling of the ankles or feet, breathing difficulties, and a tendency to bleed or bruise easily. Patients should also report any facial rashes, joint swelling, or dizziness. Numbness and tingling, seizures, or visual disturbances may also indicate life threatening disorders.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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