IL-6 Expression in Neurons of Transgenic Mice Causes Reactive Astrocytosis and Increase in Ramified Microglial Cells but no Neuronal Damage


Correspondence to: Prof. G. Ciliberto, as above


Growing evidence suggests that aberrant production of inflammatory cytokines within the central nervous system (CNS) contributes to the development of pathological conditions. To test the cause—effect relationship between the overproduction of interleukin-6 (IL-6) in the CNS and the onset of neuropathological changes, we have generated transgenic mice in which human IL-6 expression has been targeted to the neurons by using the rat neuron-specific enolase promoter. These mice develop reactive astrocytosis and an increase in ramified microglial cells but do not show histological or behavioural signs of neuron damage at the light microscope level. We thus conclude that a constant release of human IL-6 by neuronal subpopulations in mice is sufficient to activate cells potentially capable of modulating the local immune response, but at the same time is compatible with normal neuron functions.