Trans-signaling is a dominant mechanism for the pathogenic actions of interleukin-6 in the brain

Iain L. Campbell, Maria Erta, Sue Ling Lim, Ricardo Frausto, Ulrike May, Stefan Rose-John, Jürgen Scheller, Juan Hidalgo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

138 Citations (Scopus)


IL-6 is implicated in the pathogenesis of various neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders of the CNS. IL-6 signals via binding to either the membrane bound IL-6Rα (classic signaling) or soluble (s)IL-6Ra (trans-signaling) that then form a complex with gp130 to activate the JAK/STAT signaling pathway. The importance of classic versus trans-signaling in mediating IL-6 actions in the living CNS is relatively unknown and was the focus of this investigation. Bigenic mice (termed GFAP-IL6/sgp130 mice) were generated with CNS-restricted, astrocyte-targeted production of IL-6 and coproduction of the specific inhibitor of IL-6 trans-signaling, human sgp130-Fc. Transgene-encoded IL-6 mRNA levels were similar in the brain of GFAP-IL6 and GFAP-IL6/sgp130 mice. However, GFAP-IL6/sgp130 mice had decreased pY705-STAT3 in the brain due to a reduction in the total number of pY705-STAT3-positive cells and a marked loss of pY705-STAT3 in specific cell types. Blockade of trans-signaling in the brain of the GFAP-IL6 mice significantly attenuated Serpina3n but not SOCS3 gene expression, whereas vascular changes including angiogenesis and blood-brain barrier leakage as well as gliosis were also reduced significantly. Hippocampal neurogenesis which was impaired in GFAP-IL6 mice was rescued in young GFAP-IL6 mice with cerebral sgp130 production. Finally, degenerative changes in the cerebellum characteristic of GFAP-IL6 mice were absent in GFAP-IL6/sgp130 mice. The findings indicate that in the CNS: (1) sgp130 is able to block IL-6 trans-signaling, (2) trans-signaling is important for IL-6 cellular communication with selective cellular and molecular targets, and (3) blocking of trans-signaling alleviates many of the detrimental effects of IL-6. © 2014 the authors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2503-2513
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2014


  • Interleukin-6
  • Neuropathology
  • Signal transduction
  • Trans-signaling
  • Transgenic mouse


Dive into the research topics of 'Trans-signaling is a dominant mechanism for the pathogenic actions of interleukin-6 in the brain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this