IL-6: Relevance for immunopathology of SARS-CoV-2

Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 2020 Jun;53:13-24. doi: 10.1016/j.cytogfr.2020.05.009. Epub 2020 May 20.


COVID-19 mortality is strongly associated with the development of severe pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome with the worst outcome resulting in cytokine release syndrome and multiorgan failure. It is becoming critically important to identify at the early stage of the infection those patients who are prone to develop the most adverse effects. Elevated systemic interleukin-6 levels in patients with COVID-19 are considered as a relevant parameter in predicting most severe course of disease and the need for intensive care. This review discusses the mechanisms by which IL-6 may possibly contribute to disease exacerbation and the potential of therapeutic approaches based on anti-IL-6 biologics.

Keywords: Anti-cytokine therapeutics; Cytokine release syndrome; IL-6; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • Betacoronavirus / drug effects
  • Betacoronavirus / immunology
  • Betacoronavirus / pathogenicity
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Coronavirus Infections / mortality
  • Coronavirus Infections / pathology
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome / pathology
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome / virology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology
  • Lung Diseases / immunology
  • Lung Diseases / pathology
  • Lung Diseases / virology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / mortality
  • Pneumonia, Viral / pathology
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • sarilumab