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J Immunol. 2005 Apr 15;174(8):4761-7.

IL-6 increases primed cell expansion and survival.

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  • 1Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel.


Cytochrome c-specific CD4 T cells from transgenic donors transferred to syngeneic B10.A mice expand more vigorously upon immunization if exogenous IL-6 is provided during the initial phase of immunization. The resultant increase in the frequency and number of Ag-specific cells is observed in the blood, lymph nodes, spleen, liver, and lung and persists for at least 3 mo. Treatment of immunized recipients with anti-IL-6 or use of IL-6 knockout recipients reduced the frequency of Ag-specific CD4 T cells during a comparable period, indicating that IL-6 is physiologically involved in the expansion of memory and/or effector cells and thus in the persistence of memory. IL-6 did not alter the duration of Ag-presenting activity. Both CFSE dilution studies and labeling with BrdU indicated that IL-6 does not effect proliferative rates of responding CD4 T cells. By contrast, annexin V staining was diminished in responding cells from the IL-6-treated animals, particularly among those cells that had undergone five or more divisions. These results indicate that IL-6 reduces the level of apoptosis among Ag-stimulated cells; thus, it plays a central role in determining numbers of memory and/or effector CD4 T cells in response to immunization over extended periods.

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