The role of interleukin-6 in pulmonary inflammation and injury induced by exposure to environment air pollutants

Mang Yu, Xiaomu Zheng, Hanspeter Witschi, Kent E Pinkerton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


This study was designed to examine the role of the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) in environmental air pollutant-induced pulmonary inflammation, injury, and repair. IL-6 knockout (KO) mice and wild-type (WT) mice were exposed to filtered air; aged and diluted cigarette smoke (ADSS), a surrogate for environmental tobacco smoke; ozone; or ADSS followed by ozone (ADSS/ozone). The proportion of monocytes and neutrophils recovered by bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) as well as the level of total protein in BAL fluid were significantly increased in both IL-6 KO and WT mice following exposure to ozone or to ADSS/ozone. However, bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) labeling within terminal bronchiolar epithelium and proximal alveolar regions in IL-6 KO mice exposed to ozone or to ADSS/ozone was significantly reduced compared with IL-6 sufficient mice (WT). WT mice treated with IL-6 antibodies also demonstrated a reduction in BrdU cell labeling similar to that observed in IL-6 KO mice following exposure to ozone or ADSS/ozone. Clara cell secretory protein (CCSP) abundance, a marker of Clara cell maturation and function, was markedly reduced in the terminal bronchiolar epithelium of WT mice following exposure to ADSS and/or ozone, whereas CCSP abundance was unchanged in IL-6 KO mice. We conclude that endogenous IL-6 in mice plays a critical role in the progress of lung inflammation/injury, but CCSP may also play a role to protect the lungs of mice exposed to toxic air pollutants. Data from this study further suggest that IL-6 antibody treatment modalities may be a means to attenuate pulmonary inflammation and injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)488-497
Number of pages10
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2002


  • ADSS
  • CCSP
  • IL-6
  • Lung inflammation and injury
  • Ozone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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