The role of interleukin-6 in glucose homeostasis and lipid metabolism.


The Centre of Inflammation and Metabolism (CIM) and the Centre for Physical Activity Research (CFAS), Rigshospitalet 7641, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 9, DK-2100, Copenhagen, Denmark. [Email]


Low-grade inflammation is recognized as an important factor in the development and progression of a multitude of diseases including type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. The potential of using antibody-based therapies that neutralize key players of low-grade inflammation has gained scientific momentum as a novel therapeutic strategy in metabolic diseases. As interleukin-6 (IL-6) is traditionally considered a key pro-inflammatory factor, the potential of expanding the use of anti-IL-6 therapies to metabolic diseases is intriguing. However, IL-6 is a molecule of a very pleiotropic nature that regulates many aspects of not only inflammation but also metabolism. In this review, we give a brief overview of the pro- and anti-inflammatory aspects of IL-6 and provide an update on its role in metabolic regulation, with a specific focus on glucose homeostasis and adipose tissue metabolism. Finally, we shall discuss the metabolic implications and clinical potential of blocking IL-6 signaling, focusing on glucose homeostasis and lipid metabolism.