Circulating interleukin-6 in relation to adiposity, insulin action, and insulin secretion

Obes Res. 2001 Jul;9(7):414-7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2001.54.


Objective: Plasma concentrations of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a proinflammatory cytokine produced and released in part by adipose tissue, are elevated in people with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Because recent studies suggest that markers of inflammation predict the development of type 2 diabetes, we examined whether circulating plasma IL-6 concentrations were related to direct measures of insulin resistance and insulin secretory dysfunction in Pima Indians, a population with high rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Research methods and procedures: Fasting plasma IL-6 concentrations (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), body composition (DXA), insulin action (M; hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp), and acute insulin secretory responses to glucose (25 g intravenous glucose tolerance test) were measured in 58 Pima Indians without diabetes (24 women, 34 men).

Results: Fasting plasma IL-6 concentrations were positively correlated with percentage of body fat (r = 0.26, p = 0.049) and negatively correlated with M (r = -0.28, p = 0.031), but were not related to acute insulin response (r = 0.13, p = 0.339). After adjusting for percentage of body fat, plasma IL-6 was not related to M (partial r = -0.23, p = 0.089).

Discussion: Fasting plasma IL-6 concentrations are positively related to adiposity and negatively related to insulin action in Pima Indians. The relationship between IL-6 and insulin action seems to be mediated through adiposity.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arizona
  • Biomarkers
  • Body Composition
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / complications*


  • Biomarkers
  • Insulin
  • Interleukin-6