Interleukin-6 (IL-6)

Author: V. Dimov, M.D., Allergist/Immunologist and Assistant Professor at University of Chicago
Reviewer: S. Randhawa, M.D., Allergist/Immunologist and Assistant Professor at NSU

Source: monocytes, endothelial cells, fibroblasts. IL-6 is produced in response to IL-1 and TNF.

Receptor: IL-6 binds to a type I cytokine receptor and the signaling pathway involves Jak1 and STAT3 activation.

Cytokine receptors (click to enlarge the image).

IL-6 effects

IL-6 (and IL-1 via IL-6) stimulates synthesis of acute phase protein by the liver (CRP, etc.)

IL-6 and IL-1 stimulate production of neutrophils (PMNs) by the bone marrow. IL-6 is a growth factor for plasma cells in myeloma.

IL-6 receptor may be a target for prevention of coronary heart disease. Lancet, 2012.


Humanized IL-6Ra or tocilizumab (Actemra) is used for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and Castleman’s disease. Castleman's disease is an uncommon lymphoproliferative disorder defined as angiofollicular lymph node hyperplasia.

IL6R and chromosome 11q13.5 have been identified as risk loci for asthma, and an IL6R antagonist (tocilizumab) may be effective therapy (Lancet, 2011).

In 2017, FDA Approved First Treatment Specifically for Giant Cell Arteritis - tocilizumab (Actemra), IL-6 receptor antagonist


Cytokine Receptors

Published: 04/09/2010
Updated: 03/09/2017

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