Effects of IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-8 on erythrocytes, platelets and clot viscoelasticity

Sci Rep. 2016 Aug 26;6:32188. doi: 10.1038/srep32188.


Complex interactions exist between cytokines, and the interleukin family plays a fundamental role in inflammation. Particularly circulating IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-8 are unregulated in systemic and chronic inflammatory conditions. Hypercoagulability is an important hallmark of inflammation, and these cytokines are critically involved in abnormal clot formation, erythrocyte pathology and platelet hyper-activation, and these three cytokines have known receptors on platelets. Although these cytokines are always unregulated in inflammation, we do not know how the individual cytokines act upon the structure of erythrocytes and platelets, and which of the viscoelastic clot parameters are changed. Here we study the effects of IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-8 at low physiological levels, representative of chronic inflammation, by using scanning electron microscopy and thromboelastography. All three interleukins caused the viscoelastic properties to display an increased hypercoagulability of whole blood and pathology of both erythrocytes and platelets. The most pronounced changes were noted where all three cytokines caused platelet hyper-activation and spreading. Erythrocyte structure was notably affected in the presence of IL-8, where the morphological changes resembled that typically seen in eryptosis (programmed cell death). We suggest that erythrocytes and platelets are particularly sensitive to cytokine presence, and that they are excellent health indicators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Coagulation*
  • Blood Viscosity
  • Elasticity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1beta / pharmacology*
  • Interleukin-6 / pharmacology*
  • Interleukin-8 / pharmacology*
  • Male


  • CXCL8 protein, human
  • IL1B protein, human
  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-8