Acute interleukin-6 administration does not impair muscle glucose uptake or whole-body glucose disposal in healthy humans

J Physiol. 2003 Apr 15;548(Pt 2):631-8. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2002.032938. Epub 2003 Mar 14.


The cytokine interleukin (IL)-6 has recently been linked with type 2 diabetes mellitus and has been suggested to affect glucose metabolism. To determine whether acute IL-6 administration affects whole-body glucose kinetics or muscle glucose uptake, 18 healthy young men were assigned to one of three groups receiving a high dose of recombinant human IL-6 (HiIL-6; n = 6), a low dose of IL-6 (LoIL-6; n = 6) or saline (Con; n = 6) infused into one femoral artery for 3 h. The stable isotope [6,6-2H2] glucose was infused into a forearm vein throughout the 3 h infusion period and for a further 3 h after the cessation of infusion (recovery) to determine endogenous glucose production and whole-body glucose disposal. Infusion with HiIL-6 and LoIL-6 resulted in a marked (P < 0.05) increase in systemic IL-6 concentration throughout the 3 h of infusion (mean arterial plasma [IL-6]s of 319 and 143 pg ml-1 for HiIL-6 and LoIL-6, respectively), followed by a rapid decline (P < 0.05) during the recovery period. Subjects experienced clinical symptoms such as shivering and discomfort during HiIL-6 administration, but were asymptomatic during LoIL-6 administration. In addition, only HiIL-6 elevated (P < 0.05) plasma adrenaline (epinephrine). IL-6 infusion, irrespective of dose, did not result in any changes to endogenous glucose production, whole-body glucose disposal or leg- glucose uptake. These data demonstrate that acute IL-6 administration does not impair whole-body glucose disposal, net leg-glucose uptake, or increase endogenous glucose production at rest in healthy young humans.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Interleukin-6 / administration & dosage
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Muscle Proteins*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Regional Blood Flow / drug effects


  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Interleukin-6
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • SLC2A4 protein, human
  • Glycogen
  • Glucose
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine