The role of soluble receptors in cytokine biology: the agonistic properties of the sIL-6R/IL-6 complex

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2002 Nov 11;1592(3):251-63. doi: 10.1016/s0167-4889(02)00319-1.


Cytokines perform ever-increasing roles in both, the regulation of general homeostasis and in orchestrating the immune response during disease. To ensure that control of the cytokine network is tightly regulated, nature has developed a series of systems designed for this purpose. In this respect, researchers have placed considerable emphasis on identifying and characterising the regulatory properties of soluble cytokine receptors. These proteins bind their ligands with similar affinities to those of their cognate transmembrane receptors and are effective at prolonging the circulating half-life of cytokines they bind. However, it is the individual capacity of these soluble receptors to act as either antagonists or agonists which has been the principal focus of most research studies. This review provides an overview of the activities of soluble cytokine receptors, but primarily concentrates on those that possess agonistic properties.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / physiology
  • Arthritis / physiopathology
  • Cytokine Receptor gp130
  • Hematopoiesis
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology
  • Interleukin-6 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Interleukin-6 / chemistry
  • Interleukin-6 / physiology*
  • Liver Regeneration
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology
  • Neutrophil Infiltration / physiology
  • Receptors, Cytokine / chemistry
  • Receptors, Cytokine / physiology*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1 / physiology
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6 / agonists
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6 / chemistry
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6 / physiology*
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Solubility
  • Viral Proteins / physiology


  • Antigens, CD
  • IL6ST protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Cytokine
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Viral Proteins
  • Cytokine Receptor gp130