Baldwin AS. Series Introduction: "The transcription factor NF-kB and human disease," J. Clin Invest. 2001 January 1; 107(1):3-6.

The world of research surrounding NF-kB is complex and terribly exciting. My introduction of NF-kB to mainstream America in Healthy Joints for Life was an integral part of the science behind inflammation and joint pain.

In this month's featured article by Baldwin you can learn some of the basics regarding NF-kB. There are some very important messages in this article. It is important to understand the essential functions of NF-kB, those helping immune function, which is essential to fighting infections and those leading to inflammation, which interested us because they clearly lead to joint pain. This concept is key to understanding why we want to balance, not totally block, NF-kB. Baldwin writes, "...the ‘good and evil’ aspects of NF-kB whereby NF-kB is required for immunological mechanisms but detrimental when it is dysregulated." By "dysregulated" he means, "when it is out of control, excessive."

I readily know how intimidating NF-kB can be to people who don't have a science background (see The Transcription Factors for a primer). Healthy Joints for Life was rewritten three times in order to get it more approachable. My editors at Harlequin were steadfast in making me tame the complexities. Their intent, I am convinced, was that if I was going to give readers a headache by reading the book then they were going to give me a headache by having to rewrite it! I know that some people still think it is too complicated but most of my feedback is similar to Goldilocks' impression of the last porridge in the short story Goldilocks and The Three Bears, "Ahhh, this porridge/(science) is just right."

So why go through all of this? I think Baldwin tells us why. "NF-kB is a primary effector of human disease. For this reason, numerous efforts are underway to develop safe inhibitors of NF-kB to be used in treatment of both chronic and acute disease situations."

I like for people to know the general complexity of NF-kB so it isn't simply thought, "Block it (NF-kB) and all these diseases are cured." It would be misleading to walk away with that message.

The roads to the control of NF-kB are numerous. And that's one of the reason I believe in the use of multiple supplements to balance NF-kB. I'll leave you with two other articles to briefly peruse to give you an idea of new inroads to the complexity of NF-kB. (I think you are going to see that my Article of the Month will rarely be just one article!) I think Healthy Joints for Life is a bold step toward understanding inflammation and joint pain but it isn't the last step. Read Boldin and Hoesel and you'll get my point.


  1. Boldin MP1, Baltimore D. MicroRNAs, new effectors and regulators of NF-kB. Immunol Rev. 2012 Mar;246(1):205-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2011.01089.x.
  2. Hoesel B1, Schmid JA. The complexity of NF-kB signaling in inflammation and cancer. Mol Cancer. 2013 Aug 2;12:86. doi: 10.1186/1476-4598-12-86.