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Cytokine. 2007 Jul;39(1):84-96.

Regulation of a lymphocyte-endothelial-IL-6 trans-signaling axis by fever-range thermal stress: hot spot of immune surveillance.

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Department of Immunology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY 14263, USA.


The pleiotropic cytokine, interleukin-6 (IL-6), has emerged in recent years as a key regulator of the transition from innate to adaptive immunity through its ability to modulate leukocyte recruitment at inflammatory sites. This review highlights a newly identified role for IL-6 trans-signaling, initiated by an agonistic complex of IL-6 and a soluble form of IL-6 receptor alpha, in heightening immune surveillance of peripheral lymphoid organs during febrile inflammatory responses. Inflammatory cues provided by the thermal component of fever trigger IL-6 trans-signaling to act at discrete levels in the multistep adhesion cascade that governs the entry of blood-borne lymphocytes across 'gatekeeper' high endothelial venules (HEVs) in lymph nodes and Peyer patches. IL-6 trans-signaling-dependent mechanisms have been elucidated during thermal stimulation of primary tethering and rolling of lymphocytes along the lumenal surface of HEVs as well as during secondary firm arrest of lymphocytes in HEVs prior to their migration into the underlying parenchyma. These mechanisms profoundly increase the probability that lymphocytes that continuously patrol the body will engage in productive encounters with target antigens sequestered within lymphoid organs. Findings that the lymphocyte-HEV-IL-6 trans-signaling biological axis functions as a thermally-sensitive alert system that promotes immune surveillance provide insight into one of the unresolved mysteries in immunology regarding the benefits of mounting a febrile reaction during inflammation.

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