Excessive increase of serum interleukin 6 jeopardizes host defense against multi-bacterial infection

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Serum interleukin 6 (IL-6) is elevated among patients who have undergone surgery, trauma, and thermal injury. It is well known that the greater the increase of serum IL-6, the higher the incidence of post-injury morbidity and mortality is. However, it has not been determined whether the physiological effects of IL-6 increase the rate of morbidity and mortality or if IL-6 is just a bystander that only indicates the severity of the injury. To elucidate this, we planned to investigate the effect of IL-6 on a multi-bacterial infection, one of the most frequent post-injury complications. CDF1 male mice were administered recombinant human IL-6 (hIL-6) continuously at a dose of 0, 1, or 10 μg/day. The mice then underwent cecal ligation without puncture that induced slow multi-bacterial infection. The survival rate of mice receiving 10 μg/day of hIL-6 was significantly lower (38.5%) than the rate of those receiving 0 (83.3%) or 1 (92.3%) μg/day of hIL-6. The result of this study showed that only excessive increases in serum IL-6, to levels that were observed among patients who underwent severe injury or extensive surgery with high incidence of post-injury infection, jeopardize the host's defense against bacterial infection.

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