Purkinje neuron physiology is altered by the inflammatory factor interleukin-6

Cerebellum. 2005;4(3):198-205. doi: 10.1080/14734220500199987.


The cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) is produced by cells of the central nervous system (CNS) during a variety of neuroinflammatory states, in which it is thought to play a role in neuroprotection and/or neuropathology associated with neurological disease. In addition, CNS expression of IL-6 during non-pathological conditions may also occur, although the conditions for such IL-6 production remain elusive. Expression of IL-6 and its receptor and signal transducing elements by neurons and glia within the cerebellum implicate a role of IL-6 in modulating cerebellar function under normal conditions and in contributing to pathology and pathophysiology within the cerebellum during CNS disease states. Evidence for such a role of IL-6 comes from studies using transgenic mice that chronically express IL-6 within the CNS. These mice exhibit profound cerebellar pathology and significant alterations of Purkinje neuron electrical and synaptic activity. Additional evidence comes from in vitro studies using primary cultures of cerebellar cortex that have been chronically exposed to exogenously applied IL-6. Consistent with the IL-6 transgenic mice, chronic IL-6 treated Purkinje neurons in culture exhibit alterations of endogenous electrophysiological properties as well as changes in intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis and signaling. Despite these changes in Purkinje neuron physiology, chronic IL-6 does not affect the survival or morphology of Purkinje neurons in culture. Thus, by itself, IL-6 is able to modulate key components of cerebellar circuitry during periods of chronic expression, such as during neuroinflammation, and may be an important player in the movement disorders associated with a number of CNS disease states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology
  • Cerebellar Cortex / physiology
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-6 / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Purkinje Cells / drug effects
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*
  • Rats


  • Interleukin-6