Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a protein that in humans is encoded by the ''IL6'' gene.
IL-6 is an interleukin that acts as both a pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokine. It is secreted by T cells and macrophages to stimulate immune response to trauma, especially burns or other tissue damage leading to inflammation.
In terms of host response to a foreign pathogen, IL-6 has been shown, in mice, to be required for resistance against the bacterium, ''Streptococcus pneumoniae''. IL-6 is also a "myokine," a cytokine produced from muscle, and is elevated in response to muscle contraction. It is significantly elevated with exercise, and precedes the appearance of other cytokines in the circulation.
During exercise, it is thought to act in a hormone-like manner to mobilize extracellular substrates and/or augment substrate delivery (Petersen, J Appl Physiol 2005). Additionally, osteoblasts secrete IL-6 to stimulate osteoclast formation. Smooth muscle cells in the tunica media of many blood vessels also produce IL-6 as a pro-inflammatory cytokine.
IL-6's role as an anti-inflammatory cytokine is mediated through its inhibitory effects on TNF-alpha and IL-1, and activation of IL-1ra and IL-10.
Interleukin 6 has been shown to interact with interleukin-6 receptor and glycoprotein 130.
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