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Theranostics. 2019 May 31;9(14):3980-3991. doi: 10.7150/thno.32352. eCollection 2019.

Blocking interleukin-6 trans-signaling protects against renal fibrosis by suppressing STAT3 activation.

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Department of Urology, Drum Tower Hospital, Medical School of Nanjing University, Institute of Urology, Nanjing University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China.
Department of Pathology, Drum Tower Hospital, Medical School of Nanjing University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China.
Department of Immunology, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China.


Rationale: Renal fibrosis is the terminal manifestation of chronic and irreversible renal disease. Effective therapies other than dialysis are extremely limited. In this study, we investigated the potential effects of targeting elevated interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels in the treatment of renal fibrosis. Methods: Fc-gp130 was used to specifically block IL-6 trans-signaling. Unilateral ureteral occlusion (UUO) and ischemia reperfusion (IR) mouse models were constructed to investigate the therapeutic effect of Fc-gp130 on renal fibrosis. The role of IL-6 trans-signaling and phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 3 in regulating fibroblast accumulation and extracellular matrix protein deposition were evaluated in cell experiments and mouse models. Results: The kidneys of mice with UUO were found to have elevated soluble IL-6 receptor (sIL-6R) levels in the progression of fibrosis. Fc-gp130 attenuated renal fibrosis in mice, as evidenced by reductions in tubular atrophy and the production of extracellular matrix protein. Blockade of IL-6 trans-signaling with Fc-gp130 also reduced inflammation levels, immune cell infiltration, and profibrotic cytokines expression in renal tissue, with decreased STAT3 phosphorylation and reduced fibroblast accumulation in the renal tissue. In vitro, Fc-gp130 also reduced the phosphorylation of STAT3 induced by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 in fibroblasts. Furthermore, the therapeutic effect of Fc-gp130 was confirmed in a model of acute kidney injury-chronic kidney disease. Conclusion: Overall, IL-6 trans-signaling may contribute to crucial events in the development of renal fibrosis, and the targeting of IL-6 trans-signaling by Fc-gp130 may provide a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of renal fibrosis.


Fc-gp130; IL-6 trans-signaling; STAT3; chronic kidney disease; renal fibrosis

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