IL-6: a cytokine at the crossroads of autoimmunity

Kristen Sparrow • April 26, 2020

IL-6: a cytokine at the crossroads of autoimmunity

statue of Kuan Yin
Ancient Medicine Made Modern

I am linking to this  as background for a writing project.  Il-6 is mentioned quite a bit as part of the acupuncture cascade, so I want to learn more. I’m also trying to get up to date on Immunology, which basically barely existed when I was in med school.



IL-6 promotes development of Th17 and Tfh cells and suppresses induction of Treg.

IL-6 signals via three distinct mechanisms: classical, trans signaling and cluster signaling.

IL-6/IL-6R axis is dysregulated in autoimmunity.

Targeting the IL-6 pathway has proven to be therapeutic in autoimmunity.

IL-6 is implicated in the development and progression of autoimmune diseases in part by influencing CD4 T cell lineage and regulation. Elevated IL-6 levels drive inflammation in a wide range of autoimmune diseases, some of which are also characterized by enhanced T cell responses to IL-6. Notably, the impact of IL-6 on inflammation is contextual in nature and dependent on the cell type, cytokine milieu and tissue. Targeting the IL-6/IL-6R axis in humans has been shown to successfully ameliorate a subset of autoimmune conditions. In this review, we discuss recent studies investigating how IL-6 regulates the CD4 T cell response in the context of autoimmune disease and highlight how blocking different aspects of the IL-6 pathway is advantageous in the treatment of disease.