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The pathophysiologic roles of interleukin-6 in human disease

  [ 17 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Papanicolaou DA, Wilder RL, Manolagas SC, Chrousos GP • www.ProHealth.com • January 15, 1998


Interleukin-6, an inflammatory cytokine, is characterized by
pleiotropy and redundancy of action. Apart from its
hematologic, immune, and hepatic effects, it has many
endocrine and metabolic actions. Specifically, it is a potent
stimulator of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and is
under the tonic negative control of glucocorticoids. It
acutely stimulates the secretion of growth hormone, inhibits
thyroid-stimulating hormone secretion, and decreases serum
lipid concentrations. Furthermore, it is secreted during
stress and is positively controlled by catecholamines.
Administration of interleukin-6 results in fever, anorexia,
and fatigue. Elevated levels of circulating interleukin-6 have
been seen in the steroid withdrawal syndrome and in the severe
inflammatory, infectious, and traumatic states potentially
associated with the inappropriate secretion of vasopressin.
Levels of circulating interleukin-6 are also elevated in
several inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Interleukin-6 is negatively controlled by estrogens and
androgens, and it plays a central role in the pathogenesis of
the osteoporosis seen in conditions characterized by increased
bone resorption, such as sex-steroid deficiency and
hyperparathyroidism. Overproduction of interleukin-6 may
contribute to illness during aging and chronic stress.
Finally, administration of recombinant human interleukin-6 may
serve as a stimulation test for the integrity of the
hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.




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