Journal of biomedical science 2017 12 1224(1) 94 doi 10.1186/s12929-017-0401-5
Enterovirus A71 (EV-A71) infection can induce fatal encephalitis in young children. Clinical reports show that interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels in the serum and cerebrospinal fluid of infected patients with brainstem encephalitis are significantly elevated. We used a murine model to address the significance of endogenous IL-6 in EV-A71 infection.
EV-A71 infection transiently increased serum and brain IL-6 protein levels in mice. Most importantly, absence of IL-6 due to gene knockout or depletion of IL-6 using neutralizing monoclonal antibody enhanced the mortality and tissue viral load of infected mice. Absence of IL-6 increased the damage in the central nervous system and decreased the lymphocyte and virus-specific antibody responses of infected mice.
Endogenous IL-6 functions to clear virus and protect the host from EV-A71 infection. Our study raises caution over the use of anti-IL-6 antibody or pentoxifylline to reduce IL-6 for patient treatment.