Interleukin-6 as a potential therapeutic target for pulmonary arterial hypertension

Int J Rheumatol. 2010;2010:720305. doi: 10.1155/2010/720305. Epub 2010 Aug 2.


Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a pleiotropic cytokine with a wide range of biologic activities in immune regulation, hematopoiesis, inflammation, and oncogenesis. Recent accumulating evidence indicates a pathologic role for IL-6 in promoting proliferation of both smooth muscle and endothelial cells in the pulmonary arterioles, resulting in development of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Here, we describe a patient with mixed connective tissue disease and severe, refractory PAH. Her functional activity and hemodynamic parameters dramatically responded to tocilizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody to human IL-6 receptor, which was aimed at treating multicentric Castleman's disease. It appears that IL-6 blockade may hold promise as an adjunct drug in treatment of PAH in idiopathic form as well as in association with connective tissue disease.