Send to

Choose Destination
Endocrinology. 1996 Nov;137(11):4857-63.

Interleukin-6 (IL-6) inhibits thyroid function in the presence of soluble IL-6 receptor in cultured human thyroid follicles.

Author information

Kanaji Hospital, Tokyo, Japan.


Interleukin-6 (IL-6), a pleiotropic cytokine, is postulated to be involved in the pathogenesis of sick euthyroid syndrome, although the direct in vitro effects of IL-6 on human thyroid function are controversial. Because IL-6 signal can be transduced when the complex of IL-6 and soluble IL-6 receptor (sIL-6R) binds to gp 130, an IL-6 signal transducer, we studied the effects of IL-6 and sIL-6R on thyroid function, using human thyroid follicles obtained from patients with Graves' disease. IL-6 alone had no inhibitory effect on TSH-induced thyroid function (125I incorporation and organic 125I release), even at supraphysiological concentrations. However, in the presence of physiological concentrations of sIL-6R (100 ng/ml), IL-6 inhibited thyroid function dose dependently and completely, accompanied with the decreased ratio of 125I-T3/125I-T4 not only in the thyroid follicles but also in the culture medium. Thyroid follicles did not secrete sIL-6R but produced IL-6 constitutively. Consistent with these findings, sIL-6R inhibited thyroid function slightly at high concentrations. Furthermore, RT-PCR analyses revealed that human thyroid follicles expressed the messenger RNAs for IL-6 and gp130 but scarcely messenger RNA for IL-6R. These in vitro findings suggest that IL-6 alone hardly affects thyroid function in thyroid follicles in which IL-6R gene is scarcely expressed. However, because sIL-6R is present abundantly in serum, IL-6 in vivo would be capable of inhibiting the synthesis and release of T4 and, to a greater extent, T3 from the thyroid gland. These in vitro findings are at least partly related to the development of sick euthyroid syndrome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center