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J Immunol. 2008 Jun 1;180(11):7102-6.

Cutting edge: soluble IL-6R is produced by IL-6R ectodomain shedding in activated CD4 T cells.

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  • 1Department of Medicine/Immunobiology Program, University of Vermont, Burlington VT 05405, USA.


IL-6 trans-signaling via the soluble IL-6R (sIL-6R) plays an important role in the progression of several autoimmune diseases and cancer by providing IL-6-responsiveness to cells lacking IL-6R. However, the potential sources of sIL-6R are less understood. In this study we show that sIL-6R is produced by both naive and memory CD4 T cells upon TCR activation. The production of sIL-6R by activated CD4 T cells is mediated by shedding of the membrane-bound IL-6R, and this process correlates with the expression of the metalloproteinase ADAM17 in these cells. In contrast to CD4 T cells, CD8 T cells do not express ADAM17 and their production of sIL-6R is negligible. Thus, during an immune response CD4 T cells are an important source of sIL-6R. Production of sIL-6R by autoreactive CD4 T cells may contribute to their role in the development of autoimmune disease by conferring IL-6-responsiveness to cells lacking IL-6R such as synoviocytes.

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