|Interleukin 6 (interferon, beta 2)|
PDB rendering based on 1ALU.
|External IDs||ChEMBL: GeneCards:|
|RNA expression pattern|
IL-6 is secreted by T cells and macrophages to stimulate immune response, e.g. during infection and after trauma, especially burns or other tissue damage leading to inflammation. IL-6 also plays a role in fighting infection, as IL-6 has been shown in mice to be required for resistance against bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae.
IL-6 is also considered a myokine, a cytokine produced from muscle, and is elevated in response to muscle contraction. It is significantly elevated with exercise, and precedes the appearance of other cytokines in the circulation. During exercise, it is thought to act in a hormone-like manner to mobilize extracellular substrates and/or augment substrate delivery.
Additionally, osteoblasts secrete IL-6 to stimulate osteoclast formation. Smooth muscle cells in the tunica media of many blood vessels also produce IL-6 as a pro-inflammatory cytokine. IL-6's role as an anti-inflammatory cytokine is mediated through its inhibitory effects on TNF-alpha and IL-1, and activation of IL-1ra and IL-10.
IL-6 is one of the most important mediators of fever and of the acute phase response. It is capable of crossing the blood brain barrier and initiating synthesis of PGE2 in the hypothalamus, thereby changing the body's temperature setpoint. In muscle and fatty tissue, IL-6 stimulates energy mobilization which leads to increased body temperature. IL-6 can be secreted by macrophages in response to specific microbial molecules, referred to as pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). These PAMPs bind to highly important group of detection molecules of the innate immune system, called pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), including Toll-like receptors (TLRs). These are present on the cell surface and intracellular compartments and induce intracellular signaling cascades that give rise to inflammatory cytokine production.
IL-6 is also essential for hybridoma growth and is found in many supplemental cloning media such as briclone. Inhibitors of IL-6 (including estrogen) are used to treat postmenopausal osteoporosis. IL-6 is also produced by adipocytes and is thought to be a reason why obese individuals have higher endogeneous levels of CRP. In a 2009 study, intranasally administered IL-6 was shown to improve sleep-associated consolidation of emotional memories.
IL-6 is responsible for stimulating acute phase protein synthesis, as well as the production of neutrophils in the bone marrow. It supports the growth of B cells and is antagonistic to regulatory T cells.
IL-6 signals through a cell-surface type I cytokine receptor complex consisting of the ligand-binding IL-6Rα chain (CD126), and the signal-transducing component gp130 (also called CD130). CD130 is the common signal transducer for several cytokines including leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), ciliary neurotropic factor, oncostatin M, IL-11 and cardiotrophin-1, and is almost ubiquitously expressed in most tissues. In contrast, the expression of CD126 is restricted to certain tissues. As IL-6 interacts with its receptor, it triggers the gp130 and IL-6R proteins to form a complex, thus activating the receptor. These complexes bring together the intracellular regions of gp130 to initiate a signal transduction cascade through certain transcription factors, Janus kinases (JAKs) and Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription (STATs).
IL-6 is probably the best studied of the cytokines that use gp130, also known as IL-6 signal transducer (IL6ST), in their signalling complexes. Other cytokines that signal through receptors containing gp130 are Interleukin 11 (IL-11), Interleukin 27 (IL-27), ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), cardiotrophin-1 (CT-1), cardiotrophin-like cytokine (CLC), leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), oncostatin M (OSM), Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus interleukin 6 like protein (KSHV-IL6). These cytokines are commonly referred to as the IL-6 like or gp130 utilising cytokines 
In addition to the membrane-bound receptor, a soluble form of IL-6R (sIL-6R) has been purified from human serum and urine. Many neuronal cells are unresponsive to stimulation by IL-6 alone, but differentiation and survival of neuronal cells can be mediated through the action of sIL-6R. The sIL-6R/IL-6 complex can stimulate neurites outgrowth promote survival of neurons, hence may be important in nerve regeneration through remyelination.
Role in disease 
IL-6 is relevant to many diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, depression, Alzheimer's Disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer,behcet's disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Advanced/metastatic cancer patients have higher levels of IL-6 in their blood. Hence there is an interest in developing anti-IL-6 agents as therapy against many of these diseases. The first such is tocilizumab which has been approved for rheumatoid arthritis. Another, ALD518, is in clinical trials.
Epigenetic modifications and disease 
IL-6 has been shown to lead to several neurological diseases through its impact on epigenetic modification within the brain  IL-6 activates the Phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway, and a downstream target of this pathway is the protein kinase B (PKB) (Hodge et al., 2007). IL-6 activated PKB can phosphorylate the nuclear localization signal on DNA methyltransferase-1(DNMT1). This phosphorylation causes movement of DNMT1 to the nucleus, where it can be transcribed. DNMT1 recruits other DNMTs, including DNMT3A and DNMT3B, which, as a complex, recruit HDAC1. This complex adds methyl groups to CpG islands on gene promoters, repressing the chromatin structure surrounding the DNA sequence and inhibiting transcriptional machinery from accessing the gene to induce transcription. Increased IL-6, therefore, can hypermethylate DNA sequences and subsequently decrease gene expression through its effects on DNMT1 expression.
The induction of epigenetic modification by IL-6 has been proposed as a mechanism in the pathology of schizophrenia through the hypermethylation and repression of the GAD67 promoter. This hypermethylation may potentially lead to the decreased GAD67 levels seen in schizophrenic brains. GAD67 may be involved in the pathology of schizophrenia through its effect on GABA levels and on neural oscillations. Neural oscillations occur when inhibitory GABAergic neurons fire synchronously and cause inhibition of a multitude of target excitatory neurons at the same time, leading to a cycle of inhibition and disinhibition. These neural oscillations are impaired in schizophrenics, and these alterations may be responsible for both positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
The epigenetic effects IL-6 have also been implicated in the pathology of depression. The effects of IL-6 on depression are mediated through the repression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression in the brain; DNMT1 hypermethylates the BDNF promoter and reduces BDNF levels. Altered BDNF function has been implicated in depression, which is likely due to epigenetic modification following IL-6 upregulation. BDNF is a neutrophic factor that is implicated in spine formation, density and morphology on neurons. Downregulation of BDNF, therefore, may cause decreased connectivity in the brain. Depression is marked by altered connectivity, particularly between the anterior cingulate cortex and several other limbic areas, such as the hippocampus. The anterior cingulate cortex is responsible for detecting incongruences between expectation and perceived experience. Altered connectivity of the anterior cingulate cortex in depression, therefore, may cause altered emotions following certain experiences, leading to depressive reactions. This altered connectivity is mediated by IL-6 and its effect on epigenetic regulation of BDNF.
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Further reading 
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