The role of interleukin-6 in glucose homeostasis and lipid metabolism

  • Louise Lang LehrskovEmail author
  • Regitse Højgaard Christensen


Low-grade inflammation is recognized as an important factor in the development and progression of a multitude of diseases including type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. The potential of using antibody-based therapies that neutralize key players of low-grade inflammation has gained scientific momentum as a novel therapeutic strategy in metabolic diseases. As interleukin-6 (IL-6) is traditionally considered a key pro-inflammatory factor, the potential of expanding the use of anti-IL-6 therapies to metabolic diseases is intriguing. However, IL-6 is a molecule of a very pleiotropic nature that regulates many aspects of not only inflammation but also metabolism. In this review, we give a brief overview of the pro- and anti-inflammatory aspects of IL-6 and provide an update on its role in metabolic regulation, with a specific focus on glucose homeostasis and adipose tissue metabolism. Finally, we shall discuss the metabolic implications and clinical potential of blocking IL-6 signaling, focusing on glucose homeostasis and lipid metabolism.



We are grateful to Helga Ellingsgaard for providing us the opportunity to write this review. The Centre for Physical Activity Research (CFAS) is supported by a grant from TrygFonden.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Centre of Inflammation and Metabolism (CIM) and the Centre for Physical Activity Research (CFAS), Rigshospitalet 7641University of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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