Atherogenic effects of TNF-α and IL-6 via up-regulation of scavenger receptors

Cytokine. 2012 Jun;58(3):424-30. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2012.02.010. Epub 2012 Mar 19.


Patients with chronic inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. We evaluated the effects of TNF-α and IL-6 on foam cell formation, a pivotal process in atherogenesis. Accumulation of intracellular oxidized LDL (oxLDL) was induced when THP-1/macrophages were stimulated with TNF-α or IL-6. TNF-α induced the expressions of scavenger receptors SR-A and LOX-1, and IL-6 induced SR-A expression. Inhibition of the NF-κB signaling markedly decreased TNF-α-induced foam cell formation and SR-A expression. Serum from RA patients, but not healthy subjects, induced foam cell formation, which was partially reversed by either IL-6 or TNF-α blockade in conjunction with inhibiting the induction of scavenger receptors. The present study clearly showed that in patients with chronic inflammation mediated by TNF-α and IL-6, these cytokines are directly implicated in atherosclerotic plaque formation.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / physiology*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Receptors, Scavenger / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology*
  • Up-Regulation / physiology*


  • Interleukin-6
  • Receptors, Scavenger
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha