The response of interleukin-6 and soluble interleukin-6 receptor isoforms following intermittent high intensity and continuous moderate intensity cycling

Cell Stress Chaperones. 2010 Nov;15(6):827-33. doi: 10.1007/s12192-010-0192-z. Epub 2010 Apr 16.


As interleukin-6 (IL-6), its soluble receptor (sIL-6R), and the IL-6/sIL-6R complex is transiently elevated in response to prolonged moderate-intensity exercise, this study investigated how these levels would be modulated by an acute bout of high-intensity intermittent (HIIT) exercise in comparison to continuous moderate-intensity exercise (MOD). This study also investigated the expression of the differentially spliced sIL-6R (DS-sIL-6R) in response to exercise. Eleven healthy males completed two exercise trials matched for external work done (582 ± 82 kJ). During MOD, participants cycled at 61.8 (2.6)% VO(2peak) for 58.7 (1.9) min, while HIIT consisted of ten 4-min intervals cycling at 87.5 (3.4)% [Formula: see text] separated by 2-min rest. Blood samples were collected pre-exercise, post-exercise, and 1.5, 6, and 23 h post-exercise. Plasma IL-6, sIL-6R, IL-6/sIL-6R complex, and DS-sIL-6R levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. HIIT caused a significantly greater increase in IL-6 than MOD (P = 0.018). Both MOD and HIIT resulted in an increase in sIL-6R and IL-6/sIL-6R complex (P < 0.001), however, this was not significantly different between trials. Soluble IL-6R peaked at 6 h post-exercise in both trials. DS-sIL-6R increased significantly with exercise (P = 0.02), representing 0.49% of the total sIL-6R increase. This investigation has demonstrated that the IL-6 response is greater after intermittent high-intensity exercise than comparable moderate-intensity exercise; however, increased IL-6/sIL-6R complex nor sIL-6R was different between HIIT and MOD. The current study has shown for the first time that elevated sIL-6R after HIIT exercise is derived from both proteolytic cleavage and differential splicing.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Male
  • Protein Isoforms / blood
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Interleukin-6
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6