Interleukin (IL)-6-type cytokines are critically involved in health and disease. The duration and strength of IL-6-type cytokine-mediated signaling is tightly regulated to avoid overshooting activities. Here, molecular mechanisms of inter-familiar cytokine cross-talk are reviewed which regulate dynamics and strength of IL-6 signal transduction. Both plasticity and cytokine cross-talk are significantly involved in pro- and anti-inflammatory/regenerative properties of IL-6-type cytokines. Furthermore, we focus on IL-6-type cytokine/cytokine receptor plasticity and cross-talk exemplified by the recently identified composite cytokines IL-30/IL-6R and IL-35, the first inter-familiar IL-6/IL-12 family member. The complete understanding of the intra- and extracellular cytokine networks will aid to develop novel tailor-made therapeutic strategies with reduced side effects.
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