Interleukin-6 treatment reverses apoptosis and blunts susceptibility to intraperitoneal bacterial challenge following hemorrhagic shock

Crit Care Med. 2006 Mar;34(3):771-7. doi: 10.1097/01.ccm.0000201901.30292.c2.


Background: Resuscitation from hemorrhagic shock (HS) predisposes to subsequent infections. Susceptibility to infection following sepsis has been attributed to apoptosis. Interleukin (IL)-6 has been shown to have antiapoptotic properties and to decrease postresuscitation inflammation in rodent and porcine models of HS.

Objective: The objective was to determine if HS increases host susceptibility to infection, if IL-6 administration at resuscitation reduces this susceptibility, and if changes in susceptibility to infection are accompanied by parallel changes in apoptosis.

Subjects and interventions: Mice were randomized into three groups-HS, sham, and no-surgery control-and each group was further randomized to receive either IL-6 (3 microg/kg; HS/IL-6) or placebo (HS/P) at the start of resuscitation. In the HS-infection protocol, each mouse was challenged intraperitoneally the next day with a sublethal dose of Staphylococcus aureus (4x107 colony-forming units); 24 hrs later, the peritoneal cavity was lavaged and the major organs were harvested for culture. In the HS-apoptosis protocol, the livers were harvested the next day and analyzed by means of the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP-biotin nick-end-labeling (TUNEL) assay.

Results: HS/P mice had a six- to eight-fold increase in total bacterial counts in comparison with sham and control mice that was attributable to a seven- to nine-fold increase in liver burden. IL-6 treatment reduced total and liver bacterial counts in HS/IL-6 mice by 62% and 69%, respectively, to levels statistically indistinguishable from IL-6-treated sham and control mice. The number of TUNEL-positive liver cells in the HS/P group was increased eight-fold vs. that in the sham group (p=.002); IL-6 resuscitation completely reversed the HS-induced increase in TUNEL-positive cells in the HS/IL-6 group (p=.002).

Conclusions: IL-6 treatment at resuscitation eliminated the HS-mediated increase in total and liver bacterial burden and protected the liver from HS-induced apoptosis. Reduced liver apoptosis may explain the ability of IL-6 to blunt the HS-induced increase in susceptibility to bacterial challenge.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Cross Infection / physiopathology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • Interleukin-6 / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-6 / therapeutic use*
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / microbiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Random Allocation
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Resuscitation
  • Sepsis / physiopathology
  • Sepsis / prevention & control*
  • Shock, Hemorrhagic / drug therapy*


  • Interleukin-6
  • Recombinant Proteins