HBV replication is significantly reduced by IL-6

J Biomed Sci. 2009 Apr 20;16(1):41. doi: 10.1186/1423-0127-16-41.


Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a pleiotropic cytokine with pivotal functions in the regulation of the biological responses of several target cells including hepatocytes. The level of serum IL-6 has been reported to be elevated in patients with chronic hepatitis B, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma and represents the best marker of HBV-related clinical progression as compared with several other cytokines. In this study, we found that IL-6 was able to effectively suppress hepatitis B virus (HBV) replication and prevent the accumulation of HBV covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) in a human hepatoma cell line. We also demonstrated that the suppression of HBV replication by IL-6 requires concurrently a moderate reduction of viral transcripts/core proteins and a marked decrease in viral genome-containing nucleocapsids. Studies on the stability of existing viral capsids suggest that the IL-6 effect on the reduction of genome-containing nucleocapsids is mediated through the prevention of the formation of genome-containing nucleocapsids, which is similar to the effect of interferons. However, IFN-alpha/beta and IFN-gamma did not participate in the IL-6-induced suppression of HBV replication. Taken together, our results will provide important information to better understand the role of IL-6 in the course of HBV infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Genome, Viral
  • Hepatitis B / metabolism
  • Hepatitis B virus / drug effects
  • Hepatitis B virus / genetics
  • Hepatitis B virus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / pharmacology*
  • Nucleocapsid / metabolism
  • Virus Replication* / drug effects


  • Interleukin-6