Seeking balance: Potentiation and inhibition of multiple sclerosis autoimmune responses by IL-6 and IL-10

Sara J. Ireland, Nancy L. Monson, Laurie S. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The cytokines IL-6 and IL-10 are produced by cells of the adaptive and innate arms of the immune system and they appear to play key roles in genetically diverse autoimmune diseases such as relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Whereas previous intense investigations focused on the generation of autoantibodies and their contribution to immune-mediated pathogenesis in these diseases; more recent attention has focused on the roles of cytokines such as IL-6 and IL-10. In response to pathogens, antigen presenting cells (APC), including B cells, produce IL-6 and IL-10 in order to up-or down-regulate immune cell activation and effector responses. Evidence of elevated levels of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-6 has been routinely observed during inflammatory responses and in a number of autoimmune diseases. Our recent studies suggest that MS peripheral blood B cells secrete higher quantities of IL-6 and less IL-10 than B cells from healthy controls. Persistent production of IL-6, in turn, contributes to T cell expansion and the functional hyperactivity of APC such as MS B cells. Altered B cell activity can have a profound impact on resultant T cell effector functions. Enhanced signaling through the IL-6 receptor can effectively inhibit cytolytic activity, induce T cell resistance to IL-10-mediated immunosuppression and increase skewing of autoreactive T cells to a pathogenic Th17 phenotype. Our recent findings and studies by others support a role for the indirect attenuation of B cell responses by Glatiramer acetate (GA) therapy. Our studies suggest that GA therapy temporarily permits homeostatic regulatory mechanisms to be reinstated. Future studies of mechanisms underlying dysregulated B cell cytokine production could lead to the identification of novel targets for improved immunoregulatory therapies for autoimmune diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-244
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • B lymphocytes
  • Glatiramer acetate
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-6
  • Multiple sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry
  • Hematology
  • Molecular Biology


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