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Etanercept (Enbrel)

196px Etanercept.svgEtanercept (Enbrel) is…

classified as an immunosuppressant drug. A relatively new drug (1988), etanercept blocks the effects of an immune agent called tumor necrosis factor -alpha (TNF-a) by binding to it and stopping it from interacting with body’s cells. TNF-a is an important cytokine the body uses to amplify the inflammatory response produced during infection. It has been called the ‘master regulator’ of the immune response. TNF-a produces many of the symptoms associated with infection including fever and pain.

Etanercept is FDA approved for use in several autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatric arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. As of 2008 over 170 trials were evaluating Etanercepts usefulnesss in numerous diseases.

Etanercept May Be Useful in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Because..

the substance it inhibits, TNF-a, to produce flu-like symptoms, fatigue and pain. TNF-a levels may be increased in a subset of people with CFS.

ME/CFS Doctors Report

In 2008 Dr. Klimas stated TNF-a blockers such as Enbrel could be used in patients with high TNF-a levels. At the time Dr. Kerr reported he was engaged in small Enbrel trial; however that trial never took place.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Studies

Several studies suggest TNF-a activity may be increased in some ME/CFS patients and others do not. No studies have examined etanercepts effectiveness in this disorder but in 2012 Fluge and Mella were engaged in a small pilot study of patients who did not respond to Rituximab.

Side Effects

Etanercept is generally well tolerated. The most common side effects are headache, nausea and throat irritation. Because Etanercept is an immune suppressant it should not be used in people with infections and should be used with caution in people with poorly controlled diabetes or other conditions that make them prone to infection. Etanercept is also recommended for those with central nervous system diseases including multiple sclerosis in which demyelinating activity is present.

The Phoenix Rising website is compiled by a layman. It is not a substitute for a physician and is for informational uses only. It does not present complete information on this drug. Please discuss any treatments in these pages with your physician.


Carlo-Stella N, Badulli C, De Silvestri A, Bazzichi L, Martinetti M, Lorusso L, Bombardieri S, Salvaneschi L, Cuccia M. 2008. A first study of cytokine genomic polymorphisms in CFS: Positive association of TNF-857 and IFNgamma 874 rare alleles. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2006 Mar-Apr;24(2):179-82.

Spence VA, Kennedy G, Belch JJ, Hill A, Khan F. 2007. Low-grade inflammation and arterial wave reflection in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Clin Sci (Lond).114(8):561-6.

Gaab J, Rohleder N, Heitz V, Engert V, Schad T, Schürmeyer TH, Ehlert U. 2006. Stress-induced changes in LPS-induced pro-inflammatory cytokine production in chronic fatigue syndrome. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 30(2):188-98.


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