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Kidney Int. 2002 Mar;61(3):1143-52.

Association between interleukin-6 and carotid atherosclerosis in hemodialysis patients.

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First Department of Medicine, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, 1-20-1 Handayama, Hamamatsu, 431-3192 Japan.



Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is associated with cardiovascular complications in general subjects. Although blood IL-6 is greatly elevated in hemodialysis (HD) patients, the role of IL-6 in the advance of atherosclerosis remains to be determined.


We conducted a cross-sectional study to investigate the relationship between circulating IL-6 and carotid atherosclerotic changes in 156 HD patients (age 58 +/- 1 years; time on HD treatment 13 +/- 1 years; 97 males and 59 females). Serum IL-6, IgG and IgA titers of Chlamydia pneumoniae antibodies, the intima-media thickness (IMT) and the cross-sectional intima-media area (IMarea) of the carotid arteries were measured by ultrasonography in each patient.


Serum IL-6 levels were significantly higher in HD patients (2.04 +/- 0.16 pg/mL) compared to normal age-matched control subjects (0.31 +/- 0.06 pg/mL, N = 24). Circulating log IL-6 levels were positively correlated with IMT (r = 0.278, P < 0.01) and IMarea (r = 0.344, P < 0.01), respectively. A stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed that IL-6 became significant predictors for IMT and IMarea but not for aortic wall calcification at L2/3 vertebrae. Serum log IL-6 was significantly correlated with IgG (r = 0.277, P < 0.01) and IgA titers of anti-Chlamydia antibodies (r = 0.192, P < 0.02). Serum IgA anti-Chlamydia titers were also correlated with the maximal diameter of carotid plaque (r = 0.293, P < 0.04).


These findings suggested that IL-6 is associated with the severity of carotid atherosclerosis in HD patients. Persistent chronic chlamydial infection may be related, in part, to the advance of carotid plaque enlargement in dialysis patients.

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