Interleukin 6 inhibits delayed-type hypersensitivity and the development of adjuvant arthritis

Eur J Immunol. 1991 Oct;21(10):2327-31. doi: 10.1002/eji.1830211006.


We studied the effect of interleukin 6 (IL 6) on the delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH). In mice immunized with sheep red blood cells (SRBC), a DTH response was evoked by antigen challenge into the hind paw 5 days after immunization. The magnitude of the response was assessed by footpad swelling measured 24 h after antigen challenge. IL 6 significantly suppressed the DTH in its induction phase in a dose-dependent manner when administered s.c. into the back at a dose of greater than 2.5 micrograms twice a day (5 micrograms/day) for 5 consecutive days from the day of immunization (day 0) to 1 day before antigen challenge (day 4). Heat-inactivated IL 6 did not suppress the DTH response. Furthermore, the suppressive activity of IL 6 was completely abolished by affinity chromatography on an anti-IL 6 antibody. This suppression was also obtained when IL 6 was administered only on day 0 and day 1, but not on days 3 and 4. This indicates that IL 6 acts on the early part of the induction phase of DTH development. Furthermore, footpad swelling was suppressed even by the administration of IL 6 after antigen challenge. These results show that IL 6 suppresses both the induction and effector phases of DTH. To confirm further this inhibitory effect of IL 6, we examined its effect on the development of adjuvant arthritis in rats. Administration of IL 6 also significantly suppressed the development of adjuvant arthritis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Experimental / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / immunology*
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects*
  • Interleukin-6 / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Time Factors


  • Interleukin-6
  • Recombinant Proteins