Interleukin-6 in aging and chronic disease: a magnificent pathway

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2006 Jun;61(6):575-84. doi: 10.1093/gerona/61.6.575.


The human interleukin IL-6 was originally cloned in 1986. In 1993, William Ershler, in his article "IL-6: A Cytokine for Gerontologists," indicated IL-6 as one of the main signaling pathways modulating the complex relationship between aging and chronic morbidity. Over the last 12 years, our understanding of the role of IL-6 in human physiology and pathology has substantially grown, although some of the questions originally posed by Ershler are still debated. In this review, we will focus on IL-6 structure, IL-6 signaling, and trans signaling pathways, and the role of IL-6 in geriatric syndromes and chronic disease. In the final section of this review, we dissect the critical elements of the IL-6 signaling pathway and point out targets for intervention that are targeted by emerging drugs, some still on the horizon and others already being tested in clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Chronic Disease*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Biomarkers
  • Interleukin-6