The interleukin-6 (IL-6) membrane receptor and its circulating soluble form, sIL-6R, can be targeted by antibody therapy to reduce deleterious immune signaling caused by chronic overexpression of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6. This strategy may also hold promise for treating acute hyperinflammation, such as observed in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), highlighting a need to define regulators of IL-6 homeostasis. We found that conventional dendritic cells (cDCs), defined in mice via expression of the transcription factor Zbtb46, were a major source of circulating sIL-6R and, thus, systemically regulated IL-6 signaling. This was uncovered through identification of a cDC-dependent but T cell-independent modality that naturally adjuvants plasma cell differentiation and antibody responses to protein antigens. This pathway was then revealed as part of a broader biological buffer system in which cDC-derived sIL-6R set the in-solution persistence of IL-6. This control axis may further inform the development of therapeutic agents to modulate pro-inflammatory immune reactions.
Keywords: antibody response; immune defense; inflammation; regulation; signaling.
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