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This article is part of the supplement: Interleukin-6, a pleiotropic cytokine

Highly Accessed Open Badges Review

Interleukin-6 and rheumatic diseases

Peter E Lipsky

Author Affiliations

Autoimmunity Branch, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2006, 8(Suppl 2):S4  doi:10.1186/ar1918

Published: 28 July 2006


IL-6 is a pleiotropic cytokine involved in both the initiation and the maintenance of the inflammatory and immunologic responses in certain autoimmune diseases. Blocking of these two complementary functions of IL-6 may confer additive, or even unique, benefits to the patient. The levels of both IL-6 and its soluble receptor (sIL-6Rα) are elevated to various degrees in many rheumatic diseases. IL-6 blockade has been shown to be beneficial both in experimental models and in human disease, and inhibition of IL-6 signaling with a molecule such as tocilizumab could prevent or reverse some of the complications typically associated with rheumatic diseases.