The role of interleukin-6 in rheumatoid arthritis-associated osteoporosis

Osteoporos Int. 2010 Aug;21(8):1287-93. doi: 10.1007/s00198-010-1192-7. Epub 2010 Mar 13.


Introduction: Osteoporosis is highly prevalent in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and is a frequent cause of fractures, disability, reduced quality of life and increased use of healthcare resources.

Discussion: Factors associated with the development of osteoporosis and fractures in patients with RA include disease activity, inflammation, gender, age, low body mass and glucocorticoid exposure. Several processes contribute towards the pathology of RA-associated osteoporosis, and increased osteoclast activation and subsequent bone resorption mediated by pro-inflammatory cytokines are thought to play major roles. Given the key effects of interleukin-6 (IL-6) in both RA and osteoporosis, and its ability to modulate other inflammatory mediators, IL-6 may be an important factor specifically associated with osteoporosis in patients with RA.

Conclusion: The development of agents that modulate the actions of IL-6 and those of other pro-inflammatory mediators of bone loss may provide alternative osteoporosis management strategies for patients with RA than existing general osteoporosis therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology
  • Interleukin-6 / physiology*
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy
  • Osteoporosis / etiology*
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Interleukin-6