Deletion of interleukin-6 prevents cardiac inflammation, fibrosis and dysfunction without affecting blood pressure in angiotensin II-high salt-induced hypertension

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Inflammation has been proposed as a key component in the development of hypertension and cardiac remodeling associated with different cardiovascular diseases. However, the role of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 in the chronic stage of hypertension is not well defined. Here, we tested the hypothesis that deletion of interleukin-6 protects against the development of hypertension, cardiac inflammation, fibrosis, remodeling and dysfunction induced by high salt diet and angiotensin II (Ang II).


Male C57BL/6J and interleukin-6-knock out (KO) mice were implanted with telemetry devices for blood pressure (BP) measurements, fed a 4% NaCl diet, and infused with either vehicle or Ang II (90 ng/min per mouse subcutaneously) for 8 weeks. We studied BP and cardiac function by echocardiography at baseline, 4 and 8 weeks.


Myocyte cross-sectional area (MCSA), macrophage infiltration, and myocardial fibrosis were also assessed. BP increased similarly in both strains when treated with Ang II and high salt (Ang II-high salt); however, C57BL/6J mice developed a more severe decrease in left ventricle ejection fraction, fibrosis, and macrophage infiltration compared with interleukin-6-KO mice. No differences between strains were observed in MCSA, capillary density and MCSA to capillary density ratio.


In conclusion, absence of interleukin -6 did not alter the development of Ang II-high salt-induced hypertension and cardiac hypertrophy, but it prevented the development of cardiac dysfunction, myocardial inflammation, and fibrosis. This indicates that interleukin-6 plays an important role in hypertensive heart damage but not in the development of hypertension.

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