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Immunol Cell Biol. 2012 Jan;90(1):124-9. doi: 10.1038/icb.2011.29. Epub 2011 Apr 26.

IL-6 promotes acute and chronic inflammatory disease in the absence of SOCS3.

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Department of Inflammation, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


The lack of expression of the suppressor of cytokine signalling-3 (SOCS3) or inactivation of the negative regulatory capacity of SOCS3 has been well documented in rheumatoid arthritis, viral hepatitis and cancer. The specific qualitative and quantitative consequences of SOCS3 deficiency on interleukin-6 (IL-6)-mediated pro- and anti-inflammatory responses remain controversial in vitro and unknown in vivo. Mice with a conditional deletion of SOCS3 in hematopoietic cells develop lethal inflammatory disease during adult life and develop gross histopathological changes during experimental arthritis, typified by elevated IL-6 levels. To clarify the nature of the IL-6 responses in vivo, we generated mice deficient in SOCS3 (SOCS3(-/Δvav)) or both SOCS3 and IL-6 (IL-6(-/-)/SOCS3(-/Δvav)), and examined responses in models of acute and chronic inflammation. Acute responses to IL-1β were lethal to SOCS3(-/Δvav) mice but not IL-6(-/-)/SOCS3(-/Δvav) mice, indicating that IL-6 was required for the lethal inflammation induced by IL-1β. Administration of IL-1β to SOCS3(-/Δvav) mice induced systemic apoptosis of lymphocytes in the thymus, spleen and lymph nodes that was dependent on the presence of IL-6. IL-6 deficiency prolonged survival of SOCS3(-/Δvav) mice and ameliorated spontaneous inflammatory disease developing during adult life. Infection of SOCS3(-/Δvav) mice with LCMV induced a lethal inflammatory response that was dependent on IL-6, despite SOCS3(-/Δvav) mice controlling viral replication. We conclude that SOCS3 is required for survival during inflammatory responses and is a critical regulator of IL-6 in vivo.

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