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Annu Rev Immunol. 2005;23:1-21.

Interleukin-6: from basic science to medicine--40 years in immunology.

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Graduate School of Frontier Bioscience, Osaka University, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


This essay summarizes my 40 years of research in immunology. As a young physician, I encountered a patient with Waldenström's macroglobulinemia, and this inspired me to study the structure of IgM. I began to ask how antibody responses are regulated. In the late 1960s, the essential role of T cells in antibody production had been reported. In search of molecules mediating T cell helper function, I discovered activities in the culture supernatant of T cells that induced proliferation and differentiation of B cells. This led to my life's work: studying one of those factors, interleukin-6 (IL-6). To my surprise, IL-6 turned out to play additional roles, including myeloma growth factor and hepatocyte-stimulating factor activities. More importantly, it was involved in a number of diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Castleman's disease. I feel exceptionally fortunate that my work not only revealed the framework of cytokine signaling, including identification of the IL-6 receptor, gp130, NF-IL6, STAT3, and SOCS-1, but also led to the development of a new therapy for chronic inflammatory diseases.

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