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Keywords:

  • focal cerebral ischemia;
  • interleukin-6;
  • interleukin-6 receptor antibody;
  • neuroprotection;
  • signal transducer and activation of transcription-3

Abstract

Interleukin (IL)-6 expression transiently increases in the acute phase of cerebral ischemia. To investigate the physiological significance of endogenous IL-6 expression and to identify the main signal pathway for the action of IL-6, we administered anti-mouse IL-6 receptor monoclonal antibody (IL-6RA), which blocks IL-6 signaling, to mice immediately after a 45-min period of middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). At 6 h after MCAO, IL-6RA administration had resulted in a significant reduction in the amount of phosphorylated signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (Stat3) protein in the peri-infarct area of the cortex. At 24 h after MCAO, blockade of IL-6 signaling had led to an increase in number of apoptotic cells in the peri-infarct area and enlargement of the size of the infarct, and it had adversely affected neurological function. These results suggest that endogenous IL-6 plays a critical role in preventing damaged neurons from undergoing apoptosis in the acute phase of cerebral ischemia and that its role may be mediated by Stat3 activation.