Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Administration of interleukin-6 stimulates multilineage hematopoiesis and accelerates recovery from radiation-induced hematopoietic depression

  1. ML Patchen,
  2. TJ MacVittie,
  3. JL Williams,
  4. GN Schwartz, and
  5. LM Souza
  1. Department of Experimental Hematology, Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, Bethesda, MD 20889-5145.


Hematopoietic depression and subsequent susceptibility to potentially lethal opportunistic infections are well-documented phenomena following radiotherapy. Methods to therapeutically mitigate radiation-induced myelosuppression could offer great clinical value. In vivo studies in our laboratory have demonstrated that interleukin-6 (IL-6) stimulates pluripotent hematopoietic stem cell (CFU-s), granulocyte-macrophage progenitor cell (GM-CFC), and erythroid progenitor cell (CFU-e) proliferation in normal mice. Based on these results, the ability of IL- 6 to stimulate hematopoietic regeneration following radiation-induced hematopoietic injury was also evaluated. C3H/HeN female mice were exposed to 6.5 Gy 60Co radiation and subcutaneously administered either saline or IL-6 (1,000 micrograms/kg) on days 1 through 3 or 1 through 6 postexposure. On days 7, 10, 14, 17, and 22, femoral and splenic CFU-s, GM-CFC, and CFU-e contents and peripheral blood white cell, red cell, and platelet counts were determined. Compared with saline treatment, both 3-day and 6-day IL-6 treatments accelerated hematopoietic recovery; 6-day treatment produced the greater effects. For example, compared with normal control values (N), femoral and splenic CFU-s numbers in IL-6-treated mice 17 days postirradiation were 27% N and 136% N versus 2% N and 10% N in saline-treated mice. At the same time, bone marrow and splenic GM-CFC values were 58% N and 473% N versus 6% N and 196% N in saline-treated mice; bone marrow and splenic CFU-e numbers were 91% N and 250% N versus 31% N and 130% N in saline-treated mice; and peripheral blood white cell, red cell, and platelet values were 210% N, 60% N, and 24% N versus 18% N, 39% N, and 7% N in saline- treated mice. These studies demonstrate that therapeutically administered IL-6 can effectively accelerate multilineage hematopoietic recovery following radiation-induced hematopoietic injury.