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Circulation. 2003 Jan 21;107(2):320-5.

Interleukin-6-deficient mice resist development of autoimmune myocarditis associated with impaired upregulation of complement C3.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Medical ICU, University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland.



Interleukin (IL)-6 regulates various aspects of the immune response. In the context of heart diseases, it has been recognized as a prognostic factor for dilated cardiomyopathy, which often results from myocarditis.


Using IL-6-deficient mice, we studied the role of IL-6 in a model of autoimmune myocarditis resulting from immunization with a peptide derived from cardiac alpha-myosin. Prevalence and severity of myocarditis were markedly reduced in the absence of IL-6. CD4+ T cells from immunized IL-6-deficient mice proliferated poorly on restimulation with specific antigen in vitro and did not mediate disease on adoptive transfer into IL-6-competent RAG-2-deficient mice, which otherwise lack B cells and T cells. Production of complement C3, a crucial factor for the development of myocarditis, was strongly upregulated in IL-6+/+ but not in IL-6-deficient mice after immunization.


Our results demonstrate that IL-6 is required for the expansion of autoimmune CD4+ T cells and the pathogenesis of autoimmune myocarditis, possibly by upregulation of complement C3.

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