Interleukin-6 in the aging brain

J Neuroimmunol. 2004 Feb;147(1-2):141-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2003.10.031.


Astrocytes, microglia, and neurons express the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), which in the brain has been suggested to reduce food intake, inhibit memory and learning, cause neurodegeneration, and exacerbate sickness behavior induced by other cytokines. Recent evidence indicates IL-6 levels are increased in brain of healthy aged animals, thus it may play a role in the neurophysiological manifestations of old age. The purpose of this brief report is to discuss the new evidence that suggests an age-related increase in brain IL-6 and the impact this inflammatory cytokine may have on "successful" aging.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism*
  • Macrophage-1 Antigen / genetics
  • Macrophage-1 Antigen / metabolism
  • Mice
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Nerve Degeneration / immunology
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods


  • Interleukin-6
  • Macrophage-1 Antigen
  • NF-kappa B
  • RNA, Messenger