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J Immunol. 2003 Sep 15;171(6):3202-9.

Soluble IL-6 receptor governs IL-6 activity in experimental arthritis: blockade of arthritis severity by soluble glycoprotein 130.

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  • 1Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom.


Studies in IL-6-deficient (IL-6(-/-)) mice highlight that IL-6 contributes to arthritis progression. However, the molecular mechanism controlling its activity in vivo remains unclear. Using an experimental arthritis model in IL-6(-/-) mice, we have established a critical role for the soluble IL-6R in joint inflammation. Although intra-articular administration of IL-6 itself was insufficient to reconstitute arthritis within these mice, a soluble IL-6R-IL-6 fusion protein (HYPER-IL-6) restored disease activity. Histopathological assessment of joint sections demonstrated that HYPER-IL-6 increased arthritis severity and controlled intrasynovial mononuclear leukocyte recruitment through the CC-chemokine CCL2. Activation of synovial fibroblasts by soluble IL-6R and IL-6 emphasized that these cells may represent the source of CCL2 in vivo. Specific blockade of soluble IL-6R signaling in wild-type mice using soluble gp130 ameliorated disease. Consequently, soluble IL-6R-mediated signaling represents a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

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