A synergistic relationship between TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta, and TGF-beta 1 on IL-6 secretion by the IEC-6 intestinal epithelial cell line

Immunology. 1995 Sep;86(1):6-11.


Intestinal epithelial cells are known to secrete a variety of cytokines and may play a role in the immune response at the intestinal mucosa. However, the regulatory mechanisms that govern the secretion of these cytokines are largely unknown. In this report, we have focused on the cytokine interactions that regulate interleukin (IL)-6 secretion by the non-transformed rat small intestinal epithelial cell line IEC-6. Tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) was found to enhance both IL-6 mRNA expression and protein secretion by the IEC-6 cells. Furthermore, TNF-alpha acted in synergy with either transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-beta 1) or IL-1 beta to greatly enhance IEC-6 cell IL-6 secretion. Although the IEC-6 cells are known to produce TGF-beta, autocrine-secreted TGF-beta was found to have no effect on the elevated IL-6 secretion induced by both TNF-alpha plus IL-1 beta. However, the addition of activated TGF-beta 1 to IEC-6 cultures stimulated with both TNF-alpha and IL-1 beta resulted in greatly elevated levels of IL-6 secretion. Therefore, activated TGF-beta 1 can augment IL-6 secretion stimulated by TNF-alpha and IL-1 beta, either alone or in combination, suggesting that intestinal epithelial cell IL-6 secretion may be under the control of a cytokine network at the intestinal mucosa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Assay
  • Cell Line
  • Drug Synergism
  • Epithelium / drug effects
  • Epithelium / immunology
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / pharmacology*
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism*
  • Intestine, Small / drug effects
  • Intestine, Small / immunology
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology*


  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha