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Neurobiol Dis. 2006 Sep;23(3):587-94. Epub 2006 Jul 12.

IL-6 knockout mice exhibit resistance to stress-induced development of depression-like behaviors.

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  • 1Central Institute of Mental Health (ZI), J5, Mannheim D-68159, Germany.


Cytokine-dependent mechanisms in the CNS have been implicated in the pathogenesis of depression. Interleukin-6 is upregulated in depressed patients and dowregulated by antidepressants. It is, however, unknown whether IL-6 is involved in the pathogenesis of depression. We subjected IL-6-deficient mice (IL-6(-/-)) to depression-related tests (learned helplessness, forced swimming, tail suspension, sucrose preference). We also investigated IL-6 in the hippocampus of stressed wild-type mice. IL-6(-/-) mice showed reduced despair in the forced swim, and tail suspension test, and enhanced hedonic behavior. Moreover, IL-6(-/-) mice exhibited resistance to helplessness. This resistance may be caused by the lack of IL-6, because stress increased IL-6 expression in wild-type hippocampi. This suggests that IL-6 is a component in molecular mechanisms in the pathogenesis of depression. IL-6(-/-) mice represent tools to study IL-6-dependent signaling pathways in the pathophysiology of depression in vivo. Moreover, these mice may support the screening of compounds for depression by altering cytokine-mediated signaling.

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