Endocrinologic and metabolic effects of interleukin-6 in humans

J. M.L. Stouthard, J. A. Romijn, T. Van der Poll, E. Endert, S. Klein, P. J.M. Bakker, C. H.N. Veenhof, H. P. Sauerwein

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Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is one of the major circulating cytokines in catabolic states. To investigate its endocrinologic and metabolic actions in vivo, we studied eight patients with metastatic renal cell cancer two times, once during infusion of saline (control) and once during a 4-h infusion of 150 μg recombinant human IL-6 (rhIL-6). Rates of appearance (R(a)) of glucose and free fatty acids (FFA) in plasma were measured by using the isotope dilution method. Energy expenditure and substrate oxidation were determined by indirect calorimetry. rhIL-6 induced increases in plasma norepinephrine (+261 ± 97%, P < 0.001), cortisol (+210 ± 48%, P < 0.001), and glucagon (+70 ± 18%, P < 0.001), in resting energy expenditure (+25 ± 2%, P < 0.001 vs. control), and in plasma FFA concentration (+60 ± 30%, P < 0.001), FFA R(a) (+105 ± 18%, P < 0.001), and fat oxidation (+38 ± 16%, P < 0.001). Glucose R(a) increased by 20 ± 5% (P < 0.01) during rhIL-6 infusion with a concomitant increase in the metabolic clearance rate of glucose. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that rhIL-6 induces many of the endocrinologic and metabolic changes found in catabolic states and thus may mediate some of the metabolic effects previously ascribed to other cytokines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E813-E819
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number5 31-5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995


  • catabolic hormones
  • energy expenditure
  • fat metabolism
  • glucose metabolism


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