, Volume 53, Issue 11, pp 2431-2441
Date: 11 Aug 2010

Interleukin-6-deficient mice develop hepatic inflammation and systemic insulin resistance



The role of IL-6 in the development of obesity and hepatic insulin resistance is unclear and still the subject of controversy. We aimed to determine whether global deletion of Il6 in mice (Il6 −/−) results in standard chow-induced and high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity, hepatosteatosis, inflammation and insulin resistance.


Male, 8-week-old Il6 −/− and littermate control mice were fed a standard chow or HFD for 12 weeks and phenotyped accordingly.


Il6 −/− mice displayed obesity, hepatosteatosis, liver inflammation and insulin resistance when compared with control mice on a standard chow diet. When fed a HFD, the Il6 −/− and control mice had marked, equivalent gains in body weight, fat mass and ectopic lipid deposition in the liver relative to chow-fed animals. Despite this normalisation, the greater liver inflammation, damage and insulin resistance observed in chow-fed Il6 −/− mice relative to control persisted when both were fed the HFD. Microarray analysis from livers of mice fed a HFD revealed that genes associated with oxidative phosphorylation, the electron transport chain and tricarboxylic acid cycle were uniformly decreased in Il6 −/− relative to control mice. This coincided with reduced maximal activity of the mitochondrial enzyme β-hydroxyacyl-CoA-dehydrogenase and decreased levels of mitochondrial respiratory chain proteins.


Our data suggest that IL-6 deficiency exacerbates HFD-induced hepatic insulin resistance and inflammation, a process that appears to be related to defects in mitochondrial metabolism.