Interleukin-6 mediates neutrophil mobilization from bone marrow in pulmonary hypertension

Cell Mol Immunol. 2021 Feb;18(2):374-384. doi: 10.1038/s41423-020-00608-1. Epub 2021 Jan 8.


Myeloid cells, such as neutrophils, are produced in the bone marrow in high quantities and are important in the pathogenesis of vascular diseases such as pulmonary hypertension (PH). Although neutrophil recruitment into sites of inflammation has been well studied, the mechanisms of neutrophil egress from the bone marrow are not well understood. Using computational flow cytometry, we observed increased neutrophils in the lungs of patients and mice with PH. Moreover, we found elevated levels of IL-6 in the blood and lungs of patients and mice with PH. We observed that transgenic mice overexpressing Il-6 in the lungs displayed elevated neutrophil egress from the bone marrow and exaggerated neutrophil recruitment to the lungs, resulting in exacerbated pulmonary vascular remodeling, and dysfunctional hemodynamics. Mechanistically, we found that IL-6-induced neutrophil egress from the bone marrow was dependent on interferon regulatory factor 4 (IRF-4)-mediated CX3CR1 expression in neutrophils. Consequently, Cx3cr1 genetic deficiency in hematopoietic cells in Il-6-transgenic mice significantly reduced neutrophil egress from bone marrow and decreased neutrophil counts in the lungs, thus ameliorating pulmonary remodeling and hemodynamics. In summary, these findings define a novel mechanism of IL-6-induced neutrophil egress from the bone marrow and reveal a new therapeutic target to curtail neutrophil-mediated inflammation in pulmonary vascular disease.

Keywords: CX3CR1; IL-6; inflammation; neutrophil; pulmonary hypertension.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / immunology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow Cells / pathology*
  • Female
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / immunology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / metabolism
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / pathology*
  • Inflammation / complications*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism*
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neutrophil Infiltration*
  • Neutrophils / immunology*


  • Interleukin-6