Omental and subcutaneous adipose tissues of obese subjects release interleukin-6: depot difference and regulation by glucocorticoid

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998 Mar;83(3):847-50. doi: 10.1210/jcem.83.3.4660.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether human adipocytes from different depots of obese subjects produce interleukin-6 (IL-6) and whether IL-6 release is regulated by glucocorticoids. Fragments of omental and abdominal sc adipose tissue released immunodetectable IL-6 into the medium during acute incubations. Omental adipose tissue released 2-3 times more IL-6 than did sc adipose tissue. Isolated adipocytes prepared from these tissues also released IL-6 (omental > sc), but this accounted for only 10% of the total tissue release. Culture of adipose tissue fragments for 7 days with the glucocorticoid dexamethasone markedly suppressed IL-6 production. These data show for the first time that substantial quantities of IL-6 (up to 75 ng/mL) accumulate in the medium during incubations of both adipocytes and adipose tissue. Although little is known about the effects of IL-6 on adipose tissue, one action is a down-regulation of adipose tissue lipoprotein lipase. The regulated production of this multifunctional cytokine may modulate regional adipose tissue metabolism and may contribute to the recently reported correlation between serum IL-6 and the level of obesity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / drug effects
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology
  • Adult
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Media / metabolism
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Omentum
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Skin
  • Time Factors


  • Culture Media
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Interleukin-6
  • Dexamethasone