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Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2011 Apr;201(4):475-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-1716.2010.02223.x. Epub 2010 Dec 8.

In humans IL-6 is released from the brain during and after exercise and paralleled by enhanced IL-6 mRNA expression in the hippocampus of mice.

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Department of Anesthesia, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.



Plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6) increases during exercise by release from active muscles and during prolonged exercise also from the brain. The IL-6 release from muscles continues into recovery and we tested whether the brain also releases IL-6 in recovery from prolonged exercise in humans. Additionally, it was evaluated in mice whether brain release of IL-6 reflected enhanced IL-6 mRNA expression in the brain as modulated by brain glycogen levels.


Nine healthy male subjects completed 4 h of ergometer rowing while the arterio-jugular venous difference (a-v diff) for IL-6 was determined. The IL-6 mRNA and the glycogen content were determined in mouse hippocampus, cerebellum and cortex before and after 2 h treadmill running (N = 8).


At rest, the IL-6 a-v diff was negligible but decreased to -2.2 ± 1.9 pg ml(-1) at the end of exercise and remained low (-2.1 ± 2.1 pg ml(-1) ) 1 h into the recovery (P < 0.05 vs. rest). IL-6 mRNA was expressed in the three parts of the brain with the lowest content in the hippocampus (P < 0.05) coupled to the highest glycogen content (3.2 ± 0.8 mmol kg(-1) ). Treadmill running increased the hippocampal IL-6 mRNA content 2-3-fold (P < 0.05), while the hippocampal glycogen content decreased to 2.6 ± 0.6 mmol kg(-1) (P < 0.05) with no significant changes in the two other parts of the brain.


Human brain releases IL-6 both during and in recovery from prolonged exercise and mouse data suggest that concurrent changes in IL-6 mRNA and glycogen levels make the hippocampus a likely source of the IL-6 release from the brain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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