Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a well-established, independent indicator of multiple distinct types of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. In this review, we present current understanding of the multiple roles that IL-6 and its signaling pathways through glycoprotein 130 (gp130) play in cardiovascular homeostasis. IL-6 is highly inducible in vascular tissues through the actions of the angiotensin II (Ang II) peptide, where it acts in a paracrine manner to signal through two distinct mechanisms, the first being a classic membrane receptor initiated pathway and the second, a trans-signaling pathway, being able to induce responses even in tissues lacking the IL-6 receptor. Recent advances and new concepts in how its intracellular signaling pathways operate via the Janus kinase (JAK)-Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (STAT) are described. IL-6 has diverse actions in multiple cell types of cardiovascular importance, including endothelial cells, monocytes, platelets, hepatocytes and adipocytes. We discuss central roles of IL-6 in endothelial dysfunction, cellular inflammation by affecting monocyte activation/differentiation, cellular cytoprotective functions from reactive oxygen species (ROS) stress, modulation of pro-coagulant state, myocardial growth control, and its implications in metabolic control and insulin resistance. These multiple actions indicate that IL-6 is not merely a passive biomarker, but actively modulates adaptive and pathological responses to cardiovascular stress. Summary: IL-6 is a multifunctional cytokine whose presence in the circulation is linked with diverse types of cardiovascular disease and is an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis. In this review, we examine the mechanisms by which IL-6 signals and its myriad effects in cardiovascular tissues that modulate the manifestations of vascular inflammation.
- Angiotensin II
- Vascular inflammation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine