Role of interleukin-6 signalling in glucose and lipid metabolism

Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2008 Jan;192(1):37-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-1716.2007.01779.x.


Derangements in whole body glucose and lipid metabolism, accompanied by insulin resistance, are key features of obesity and the metabolic syndrome. A role for inflammation as a causative factor is an emerging concept in the field of metabolic disease. Research has centred on identifying important inflammatory markers, and tumour necrosis factor-alpha has been highlighted as a key mediator of insulin resistance, as well as interleukin-6 (IL-6). A parallel ongoing endeavour is the unravelling of molecular mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of physical exercise on whole body glucose and lipid metabolism. Release of IL-6 from the contracting skeletal muscle has been proposed to be one of the molecular signals promoting the beneficial exercise-induced effects. These two opposing views of IL-6 underscore that the role of IL-6 in whole body physiology is incompletely resolved. This review aims at summarizing the current data on mechanisms by which IL-6 may impact on glucose and lipid metabolism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Interleukin-6 / physiology*
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Interleukin-6
  • Glucose