The role of transsignalling via the agonistic soluble IL-6 receptor in human diseases

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2002 Nov 11;1592(3):323-43. doi: 10.1016/s0167-4889(02)00325-7.


The activation of cells that do not express the membrane bound interleukin-6 6 receptor (IL-6R) by IL-6 and the soluble IL-6 receptor (sIL-6R) is termed transsignalling. Transsignalling may be an pathogenetic factor in human diseases as diverse as multiple myeloma (MM), Castleman's disease, prostate carcinoma, Crohn's disease, systemic sclerosis, Still's disease, osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases. IL-6 and sIL-6R may directly or indirectly enhance their own production on endothelial or bone marrow stromal cells. Positive feedback autocrine loops thus created in affected organs may either cause or maintain disease progression. In autoimmune or vasculitic disease, the ability of the IL-6/sIL-6R complex to inhibit apoptosis of autoreactive T-cells may be central to the development of tissue specific autoimmunity. The anti-apoptotic effect of the IL-6/sIL-6R complex may be involved in tumour genesis and resistance to chemotherapy. Only in rare cases, where counterregulation has failed, there is a notable systemic effect of IL-6/sIL-6R. Appropriate animal models are necessary to establish the pathogenetic role of the IL-6/sIL-6R complex. A specific treatment option for diseases influenced by the sIL-6R could be based on gp130-Fc, a soluble gp130 (sgp130) linked to the Fc-fragment of IgG1. gp130-Fc has shown efficacy in vivo in animal models of Crohn's disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / therapeutic use
  • Antigens, CD / genetics
  • Antigens, CD / physiology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / physiopathology
  • Bone Diseases / physiopathology
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cytokine Receptor gp130
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endometriosis / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / physiology*
  • Liver Diseases / physiopathology
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6 / analysis
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6 / chemistry
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6 / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Solubility
  • Vascular Diseases / physiopathology


  • Antibodies
  • Antigens, CD
  • IL6ST protein, human
  • Il6st protein, mouse
  • Interleukin-6
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6
  • Cytokine Receptor gp130