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Gastroenterology. 2000 Dec;119(6):1663-71.

Combined interleukin 6 and soluble interleukin 6 receptor accelerates murine liver regeneration.

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Division of Pathophysiology, First Department of Medicine, University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany.



Liver regeneration after loss of hepatic tissue leads to hepatocyte and nonparenchymal cell proliferation and rapid restoration of liver parenchyma. Interleukin (IL)-6 is a key inducer of transcription factors involved in liver regeneration. Whenever IL-6 activates target cells, it binds to a specific IL-6 receptor (IL-6R). The IL-6/IL-6R complex then associates with the signal transducer gp130, leading to activation of intracellular signaling.


We have recently constructed the designer cytokine Hyper-IL-6 consisting of soluble IL-6R covalently linked to IL-6, which directly stimulates gp130 even in the absence of membrane-bound IL-6R. We compared the influence of IL-6 and Hyper-IL-6 on liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy in mice.


The IL-6/soluble IL-6 fusion protein Hyper-IL-6, but not IL-6 alone, led to an earlier onset of hepatocellular proliferation resulting in an acceleration of liver weight restoration. Also, during liver regeneration, soluble IL-6R levels were increased.


These results emphasize a central role for IL-6 and soluble IL-6R in liver regeneration and indicate a possible therapeutic potential for the designer cytokine Hyper-IL-6 in clinical situations associated with liver regeneration such as acute hepatic failure or resection of chronically damaged liver tissue.

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