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Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 2018 May;391(5):523-536. doi: 10.1007/s00210-018-1483-7. Epub 2018 Mar 1.

Pharmacological inhibition of IL-6 trans-signaling improves compromised fracture healing after severe trauma.

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Institute of Orthopedic Research and Biomechanics, Trauma Research Center Ulm, University Medical Center Ulm, 89081, Ulm, Germany.
Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, University Medical Center Ulm, 89075, Ulm, Germany.
CONARIS Research Institute AG, 24118, Kiel, Germany.
Institute of Biochemistry, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, 24118, Kiel, Germany.
Institute of Orthopedic Research and Biomechanics, Trauma Research Center Ulm, University Medical Center Ulm, 89081, Ulm, Germany.


Patients with multiple injuries frequently suffer bone fractures and are at high risk to develop fracture healing complications. Because of its key role both in systemic posttraumatic inflammation and fracture healing, the pleiotropic cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) may be involved in the pathomechanisms of trauma-induced compromised fracture healing. IL-6 signals are transmitted by two different mechanisms: classic signaling via the membrane-bound receptor (mIL-6R) and trans-signaling via its soluble form (sIL-6R). Herein, we investigated whether IL-6 classic and trans-signaling play different roles in bone regeneration after severe injury. Twelve-week-old C57BL/6J mice underwent combined femur osteotomy and thoracic trauma. To study the function of IL-6, either an anti-IL-6 antibody, which inhibits both IL-6 classic and trans-signaling, or a soluble glycoprotein 130 fusion protein (sgp130Fc), which selectively blocks trans-signaling, were injected 30 min and 48 h after surgery. Bone healing was assessed using cytokine analyses, flow cytometry, histology, micro-computed tomography, and biomechanical testing. Selective inhibition of IL-6 trans-signaling significantly improved the fracture healing outcome after combined injury, as confirmed by accelerated cartilage-to-bone transformation, enhanced bony bridging of the fracture gap and improved mechanical callus properties. In contrast, global IL-6 inhibition did not affect compromised fracture healing. These data suggest that classic signaling may mediate beneficial effects on bone repair after severe injury. Selective inhibition of IL-6 trans-signaling might have therapeutic potential to treat fracture healing complications in patients with concomitant injuries.


Bone fracture healing; Classic signaling; IL-6; Inflammation; Trans-signaling; Trauma

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