Granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) has many more functions than its original in vitro identification as an inducer of granulocyte and macrophage development from progenitor cells. Key features of GM-CSF biology need to be defined better, such as the responding and producing cell types, its links with other mediators, its prosurvival versus activation/differentiation functions, and when it is relevant in pathology. Significant preclinical data have emerged from GM-CSF deletion/depletion approaches indicating that GM-CSF is a potential target in many inflammatory/autoimmune conditions. Clinical trials targeting GM-CSF or its receptor have shown encouraging efficacy and safety profiles, particularly in rheumatoid arthritis. This review provides an update on the above topics and current issues/questions surrounding GM-CSF biology.

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