Interleukin 6: from bench to bedside

Nat Clin Pract Rheumatol. 2006 Nov;2(11):619-26. doi: 10.1038/ncprheum0338.


Interleukin (IL)-6 is a pleiotropic cytokine that has important roles in the regulation of the immune response, inflammation, and hematopoiesis. Disruption of IL-6 regulation might, however, affect the immune response and consequently induce immune-mediated inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Castleman disease, and Crohn's disease. Overproduction of IL-6 also contributes, through its roles as a growth factor or an antiapoptotic factor, to the development of malignant diseases such as multiple myeloma and renal cancer. Progress in the study of IL-6 has increased our understanding of the pathological roles of this cytokine in these diseases and provided key evidence that antagonizing its activities can be used as a therapeutic strategy. The application of molecular biology techniques to design monoclonal antibodies as therapeutic agents has made it possible to regulate the IL-6 signal to successfully treat diseases that have so far proved refractory to conventional therapies. Blocking IL-6 actions by use of a humanized antibody, tocilizumab, which targets the IL-6 receptor, has been proven to be therapeutically effective for rheumatoid arthritis, systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Castleman disease and Crohn's disease. In this review, we discuss a paradigm of IL-6 from basic science to clinical use.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy
  • Castleman Disease / therapy
  • Crohn Disease / therapy
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / therapy*
  • Interleukin-6 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Interleukin-6 / physiology
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Still's Disease, Adult-Onset / therapy


  • Interleukin-6
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6