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Diabetes. 2003 Nov;52(11):2784-9.

Chronic exposure to interleukin-6 causes hepatic insulin resistance in mice.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


Interleukin (IL)-6 is one of several proinflammatory cytokines associated with the insulin resistance of obesity and type 2 diabetes. There is, however, little direct evidence in vivo for a causative role of IL-6 in insulin resistance. Here, a 5-day constant subcutaneous infusion of hIL-6 before portal vein insulin challenge resulted in impairment of early insulin receptor signaling in the liver of mice. Importantly, the sixfold elevation of IL-6 attained with constant infusion was similar to levels reached in obesity. Consistent with an hepatic response to IL-6, STAT3 phosphorylation was increased in livers of IL-6-treated mice at 5 days. Chronic infusion of IL-6 also reduced hepatic insulin receptor autophosphorylation by 60% and tyrosine phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrates-1 and -2 by 60 and 40%, respectively. IL-6 had no effect on the mass of these proteins. IL-6 also decreased refeeding-dependent glucokinase mRNA induction by approximately 40%. Insulin tolerance tests revealed reduced insulin sensitivity. In contrast to hepatic insulin receptor signal transduction, 5-day IL-6 exposure failed to suppress skeletal muscle insulin receptor signal transduction. These data suggest that chronic IL-6 treatment selectively impairs hepatic insulin signaling in vivo, further supporting a role for IL-6 in hepatic insulin resistance of obesity.

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