Elevated serum interleukin-6 (IL-6) and IL-6 receptor concentrations in posttraumatic stress disorder following accidental man-made traumatic events

Biol Psychiatry. 1999 Apr 1;45(7):833-9. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(98)00131-0.


Background: Recently, it has been reported that serum interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta), but not soluble IL-2 receptor (sIL-2R), concentrations were significantly higher in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than in normal volunteers, and that psychological stress in humans is associated with increased secretion of proinflammatory cytokines, such as IL-6.

Methods: The aim of the present study was to examine the inflammatory response system in patients with PTSD through measurements of serum IL-6, sIL-6R, sgp130 (the IL-6 signal transducing protein), sIL-1R antagonist (sIL-1RA; an endogenous IL-1 receptor antagonist), CC16 (an endogenous anticytokine), and sCD8 (the T suppressor-cytotoxic antigen).

Results: Serum IL-6 and sIL-6R, but not sgp130, sIL-RA, CC16, or sCD8, concentrations were significantly higher in PTSD patients than in normal volunteers. Serum sIL-6R concentrations were significantly higher in PTSD patients with concurrent major depression than in PTSD patients without major depression and normal volunteers. There were no significant relationships between serum IL-6 or sIL-6R and severity measures of PTSD.

Conclusions: The results suggest that PTSD is associated with increased IL-6 signaling. It is hypothesized that stress-induced secretion of proinflammatory cytokines is involved in the catecholaminergic modulation of anxiety reactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / psychology
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • CD8 Antigens / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / blood
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / immunology
  • Disasters
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / physiology
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sialoglycoproteins / blood
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / blood*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / immunology
  • Survivors / psychology
  • Uteroglobin*


  • CD8 Antigens
  • IL1RN protein, human
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Interleukin-6
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Proteins
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6
  • SCGB1A1 protein, human
  • Sialoglycoproteins
  • Uteroglobin