The wolf in sheep's clothing: the role of interleukin-6 in immunity, inflammation and cancer

Trends Mol Med. 2008 Mar;14(3):109-19. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2007.12.007. Epub 2008 Feb 7.


Recent discoveries involving the cytokine interleukin (IL)-6 have originated from diverse disciplines, revealing roles in biological processes that are likewise varied. The most novel findings suggest a connection between inflammation and diseases, such as insulin resistance associated with diabetes mellitus and cancer, which had not or only weakly been appreciated previously. The IL-6 pathway is one of the mechanisms linking inflammation to these disease processes. In addition, new evidence points toward IL-6 as one of the mediators coordinating the interface between adaptive and innate immunity. Here, we review the evidence linking IL-6 to inflammatory diseases and cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Interleukin-6 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology
  • Interleukin-6 / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Rheumatic Fever / drug therapy
  • Rheumatic Fever / physiopathology
  • Signal Transduction


  • Interleukin-6