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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1997 Dec;82(12):4167-70.

Dose-dependent effects of recombinant human interleukin-6 on glucose regulation.

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Developmental Endocrinology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Inflammatory cytokines have metabolic actions that probably contribute to the general adaptation of the organism during infectious or inflammatory stress. To examine the effects of interleukin 6 (IL-6), the main circulating cytokine, on glucose metabolism in man, we performed dose-response studies of recombinant human IL-6 in normal volunteers. Increasing single doses of IL-6 (0.1, 0.3, 1.0, 3.0, and 10.0 mg/Kg BW) were injected sc in 15 healthy male volunteers (3 in each dose) after a 12-h fast. All IL-6 doses were tolerated well and produced no significant adverse effects. We measured the circulating levels of glucose, insulin, C-peptide, and glucagon at baseline and half-hourly over 4 h after the IL-6 injection. Mean peak plasma levels of IL-6 were achieved between 120 and 240 min and were 8, 22, 65, 290, and 4050 pg/mL, respectively, for the 5 doses. After administration of the 2 smaller IL-6 doses, we observed no significant changes in plasma glucose levels, which, because of continued fasting, decreased slightly over time. By 60 min after the 3 higher IL-6 doses, however, the decline in fasting blood glucose was arrested, and glucose levels increased in a dose-dependent fashion. The concurrent levels of plasma insulin and C-peptide were not affected by any IL-6 dose. In contrast, IL-6 caused significant increases in plasma glucagon levels, which peaked between 120 and 150 min after the IL-6 injection. In conclusion, sc IL-6 administration induced dose-dependent increases in fasting blood glucose, probably by stimulating glucagon release and other counteregulatory hormones and/or by inducing peripheral resistance to insulin action.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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