• cytokines;
  • interleukin-10;
  • interleukin-17;
  • interleukin-6;
  • multiple sclerosis


Interleukin-6 (IL-6) has been implicated in the induction of pathogenic IL-17-producing T cells in autoimmune diseases, and studies evaluating the role of this cytokine in T-cell function in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) are lacking. Our objective was to evaluate the role of IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) signalling on in vitro functional status of T cells from patients with relapsing–remitting MS during clinical remission. Our results demonstrated that, even during the remission phase, activated T cells from patients produce higher levels of IL-17, and this cytokine was positively correlated with disease severity, as determined by Expanded Disability Status Scale score. In the MS group, the blockade of IL-6R signalling by anti-IL-6R monoclonal antibody reduced IL-17 production and elevated IL-10 release by activated CD4+ T cells, but it did not alter the production of these cytokines by activated CD8+ T cells. Blockade of IL-6R signalling also reduced the ability of monocytes to up-regulate T helper type 17 phenotype in patients with MS. Finally, both cell proliferation and IL-17 release by CD4+ and, mainly, CD8+ T cells from patients with MS were less sensitive to hydrocortisone inhibition than control group. Interestingly, IL-6R signalling blockade restored the ability of hydrocortisone to inhibit both T-cell proliferation and IL-17 production. Collectively, these results suggest that IL-6 might be involved in MS pathogenesis by enhancing IL-17 production and reducing corticoid inhibitory effects on activated T cells.