IL-6 in autoimmune disease and chronic inflammatory proliferative disease

Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 2002 Aug-Oct;13(4-5):357-68. doi: 10.1016/s1359-6101(02)00027-8.


Interleukin 6 (IL-6), which was originally identified as a B-cell differentiation factor, is now known to be a multifunctional cytokine that regulates the immune response, hematopoiesis, the acute phase response, and inflammation. Deregulation of IL-6 production is implicated in the pathology of several disease processes. The expression of constitutively high levels of IL-6 in transgenic mice results in fatal plasmacytosis, which has been implicated in human multiple myeloma. Increased IL-6 levels are also observed in several diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic-onset juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA), osteoporosis, and psoriasis. IL-6 is critically involved in experimentally induced autoimmune disease, such as antigen-induced arthritis (AIA), and experimental allergic encephalomyelitis. All these clinical data and animal models suggest that IL-6 plays critical roles in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. Here we review the evidence for the involvement of IL-6 in the pathophysiology of autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammatory proliferative diseases (CIPD) and discuss the possible molecular mechanisms of its involvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoantibodies / biosynthesis
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / physiopathology*
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / pathology
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 7 / genetics
  • Chronic Disease
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / physiopathology
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology
  • Interleukin-6 / deficiency
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics
  • Interleukin-6 / physiology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Plasmacytoma / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Signal Transduction
  • Trans-Activators / physiology


  • Autoantibodies
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Interleukin-6
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • Stat3 protein, mouse
  • Trans-Activators