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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Interleukin 6 plays a key role in the development of antigen-induced arthritis.

To investigate the direct role of interleukin (IL) 6 in the development of rheumatoid arthritis, IL-6-deficient (IL-6 -/-) mice were backcrossed for eight generations into C57BL/6 mice, a strain of mice with a genetic background of susceptibility for antigen-induced arthritis (AIA). Both histological and immunological comparisons were made between IL-6-deficient (IL-6 -/-) mice and wild-type (IL-6 +/+) littermates after the induction of AIA. Although all IL-6 +/+ mice developed severe arthritis, only mild arthritis was observed in IL-6 -/- mice. Safranin O staining demonstrated that articular cartilage was well preserved in IL-6 -/- mice, whereas it was destroyed completely in IL-6 +/+ mice. In addition, comparable mRNA expression for both IL-1beta and tumor necrosis factor alpha, but not for IL-6, was detected in the inflamed joints of IL-6 -/- mice, suggesting that IL-6 may play a more crucial role in cartilage destruction than either IL-1beta or tumor necrosis factor alpha. In immunological comparisons, both antigen-specific in vitro proliferative response in lymph node cells and in vivo antibody production were elicited in IL-6 -/- mice, but they were reduced to less than half of that found in IL-6 +/+ mice. Lymph node cells of IL-6 -/- mice produced many more Th2 cytokines than did IL-6 +/+ mice with either antigen-specific or nonspecific stimulation in in vitro culture. Taken together, these results indicate that IL-6 may play a key role in the development of AIA at the inductive as well as the effector phase, and the blockade of IL-6 is possibly beneficial in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.[1]


  1. Interleukin 6 plays a key role in the development of antigen-induced arthritis. Ohshima, S., Saeki, Y., Mima, T., Sasai, M., Nishioka, K., Nomura, S., Kopf, M., Katada, Y., Tanaka, T., Suemura, M., Kishimoto, T. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1998) [Pubmed]
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