Interleukin-6 causes hypocholesterolemia in middle-aged and old rhesus monkeys

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1995 May;50(3):M137-40. doi: 10.1093/gerona/50a.3.m137.


Background: Hypocholesterolemia is a risk factor for morbidity and mortality in older people. We have hypothesized that hypocholesterolemia in older people is due to the chronic effect of proinflammatory cytokines on lipoprotein metabolism.

Methods: To test the effects of the chronic administration of interleukin-6 (IL-6) on lipoprotein levels in middle-aged and old rhesus monkeys, five middle-aged and five old rhesus monkeys received a subcutaneous injection of recombinant human IL-6 (15 micrograms/kg) for 28 days. Lipid, apolipoprotein, and albumin levels were measured at 0, 28, and 42 days after injection.

Results: Total and HDL cholesterol levels fell by 16 and 23%, respectively, after IL-6 injections. The concentrations of apolipoproteins A1 and B also decreased. The changes in lipoprotein levels were accompanied by a decrease in albumin levels and body weight. Levels of lipids and plasma proteins returned toward normal 2 weeks after injections were stopped. There was no difference in response between middle-aged and older animals.

Conclusions: Chronic IL-6 injections cause acquired hypocholesterolemia, hypoalbuminemia, and weight loss in nonhuman primates. These changes are similar to those seen in older persons with acquired hypocholesterolemia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Apolipoprotein A-I / blood
  • Apolipoproteins B / blood
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Female
  • Interleukin-6 / pharmacology*
  • Interleukin-6 / toxicity
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Serum Albumin / metabolism


  • Apolipoprotein A-I
  • Apolipoproteins B
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Interleukin-6
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Serum Albumin
  • Cholesterol