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Eur J Immunol. 1992 Oct;22(10):2625-30.

Limited involvement of interleukin-6 in the pathogenesis of lethal septic shock as revealed by the effect of monoclonal antibodies against interleukin-6 or its receptor in various murine models.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, University of Ghent, Belgium.


Several studies in human patients and in laboratory animals have revealed a correlation between serum interleukin (IL)-6 levels and outcome in clinical sepsis and in related animal models, respectively. In the present study, two monoclonal antibodies were used to investigate the contribution of IL-6 in the lethal action of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in mice. We studied the potential protective properties of an anti-murine (m) IL-6 antibody and of an anti-mIL-6 receptor antibody. In controlled experiments, we observed that both monoclonal antibodies conferred a dose-dependent protection to a lethal dose of mTNF. Detailed studies with the monoclonal antibodies indicate, however, that protection was no longer observed when the mTNF dose was slightly higher than the lethal dose. Likewise, the anti-IL-6 monoclonal antibody protected against injections of LPS at a lethal-dose concentration, but here too failed to protect against higher doses of LPS. The anti-IL-6 monoclonal antibody was unable to protect against mTNF in mice sensitized by galactosamine, the corticoid receptor antagonist RU38486 or human (h) IL-1 beta. Protection did not correlate with the serum concentrations of IL-6. Finally, we demonstrate that hIL-6 injection did not change the sensitivity of mice towards mTNF. We conclude that, although IL-6 levels may be of value as a marker for the outcome in septic shock, this cytokine contributes only marginally in the pathogenesis leading to death. The small, but real, contribution of IL-6 in some situations might be due to its ability to up-regulate the level of TNF receptors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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