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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2010 Aug;69(8):838-49. doi: 10.1097/NEN.0b013e3181eaeae5.

Expression of the interleukin 6 system in cortical lesions from patients with tuberous sclerosis complex and focal cortical dysplasia type IIb.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, Xinqiao Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China.


Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) and focal cortical dysplasia type IIb (FCDIIb) are characterized by epilepsy-associated cerebral cortical malformations. To understand the potential role of the inflammatory cytokine interleukin 6 (IL-6) in the pathogenesis of these lesions, we analyzed the IL-6 system in TSC and FCDIIb cortical lesions and in control cortex (CTX). Greater messenger RNA and protein levels of IL-6 and of its receptors (i.e. IL-6 receptor [IL-6R] and glycoprotein 130 [gp130]) were observed in TSC and FCDIIb lesions versus CTX. Immunohistochemical analyses indicated that IL-6 and IL-6R were strongly expressed in misshapen cells, namely, dysmorphic neurons, giant neurons, and balloon cells. Glycoprotein 130 was diffusely expressed in nearly all cell types. Most IL-6/IL-6R+ misshapen cells colabeled with neuronal rather than astrocytic markers, suggesting a neuronal lineage; most IL-6/IL-6R+ balloon cells in FCDIIb expressed glial fibrillary acidic protein. Protein levels of Janus kinase 2 and phosphorylated signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 were greater than in CTX, suggesting involvement of the gp130-Janus kinase 2-signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 pathway in IL-6 signal transduction. Soluble IL-6R, but not soluble gp130, was greater in TSC and FCDIIb lesions than in CTX, indicating activation of this trans-signaling pathway. These results suggest that overexpression in the IL-6 system and activation of IL-6 signal transduction pathways may contribute to the pathogenesis of cortical lesions in TSC and FCDIIb.

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