IL-6: a cytokine at the crossroads of autoimmunity

Curr Opin Immunol. 2018 Dec:55:9-14. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2018.09.002. Epub 2018 Sep 21.


IL-6 is implicated in the development and progression of autoimmune diseases in part by influencing CD4 T cell lineage and regulation. Elevated IL-6 levels drive inflammation in a wide range of autoimmune diseases, some of which are also characterized by enhanced T cell responses to IL-6. Notably, the impact of IL-6 on inflammation is contextual in nature and dependent on the cell type, cytokine milieu and tissue. Targeting the IL-6/IL-6R axis in humans has been shown to successfully ameliorate a subset of autoimmune conditions. In this review, we discuss recent studies investigating how IL-6 regulates the CD4 T cell response in the context of autoimmune disease and highlight how blocking different aspects of the IL-6 pathway is advantageous in the treatment of disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmunity / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology*


  • Interleukin-6