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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Apr;87(7):2838-42.

Glucocorticoid up-regulation of high-affinity interleukin 6 receptors on human epithelial cells.

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  • 1Department of Virology, Institut Pasteur du Brabant, Brussels, Belgium.


Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is a potent pleiotropic cytokine, known, among others, to stimulate immunoglobulin production by B cells and to trigger acute-phase protein synthesis by hepatocytes. Similar to IL-1, it is produced by monocytes and macrophages following an inflammatory challenge. Analysis of IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) expression on different human cell lines indicates that dexamethasone could up-regulate the number of IL-6R on one epithelial cell line (UAC) and on two hepatoma cell lines (HepG2 and Hep3B). This effect was confirmed by Scatchard analysis of binding experiments, using [35S]methionine and [35S]cysteine metabolically labeled IL-6. It was confirmed at the level of mRNA expression by Northern blot analysis. These results provide evidence for a link between IL-6 and glucocorticoids. They could represent an example of a system in which one role of glucocorticoids is to define more accurately the target of cytokines, and they could explain, at least partly, the frequently observed synergy between IL-6 and glucocorticoids, notably in the case of hepatocytes.

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