Interplay between interleukin-6 signaling and the vascular endothelium in cytokine storms.Exp Mol Med. 2021 07; 53(7):1116-1123.EM
Interleukin-6 (IL-6) plays a crucial role in host defense against infection and tissue injuries and is a bioindicator of multiple distinct types of cytokine storms. In this review, we present the current understanding of the diverse roles of IL-6, its receptors, and its signaling during acute severe systemic inflammation. IL-6 directly affects vascular endothelial cells, which produce several types of cytokines and chemokines and activate the coagulation cascade. Endothelial cell dysregulation, characterized by abnormal coagulation and vascular leakage, is a common complication in cytokine storms. Emerging evidence indicates that a humanized anti-IL-6 receptor antibody, tocilizumab, can effectively block IL-6 signaling and has beneficial effects in rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile systemic idiopathic arthritis, and Castleman's disease. Recent work has also demonstrated the beneficial effect of tocilizumab in chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy-induced cytokine storms as well as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Here, we highlight the distinct contributions of IL-6 signaling to the pathogenesis of several types of cytokine storms and discuss potential therapeutic strategies for the management of cytokine storms, including those associated with sepsis and COVID-19.