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

Elevation of interleukin-6 in response to a chronic inflammatory stimulus in mice: inhibition by indomethacin

  1. E Shacter,
  2. GK Arzadon, and
  3. J Williams
  1. Laboratory of Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of a mineral oil such as pristane induces a chronic inflammatory response in mice. This is characterized by a large influx of macrophages and other inflammatory cells into the peritoneal cavity for months after injection of the oil. By using the B9 cell bioassay, it was found that injection of pristane caused a marked and prolonged elevation of interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels in the peritoneal cavities of the mice. IL-6 was undetectable (less than 15 U/mL) in the peritoneal fluids of unprimed mice and during the first week after injecting pristane. From 4 to 20 weeks, the concentration of IL-6 increased to an apparent plateau with concentrations ranging from 200 to 2,000 U/mL. Increasing the dose of pristane did not substantially increase the peritoneal levels of IL-6 established at 20 weeks after pristane treatment. At later times (by day 250), the level decreased to 263 +/- 217 U/mL. However, mice that developed plasma cell tumors around day 300 showed high levels of IL-6 in the ascites fluid (650 to 2,400 U/mL). Serum levels of IL-6 were also elevated in pristane-primed mice but were substantially lower than those found in the peritoneal cavity. Chronic administration of the nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drug indomethacin decreased the levels of IL-6 by 75% to 80%. Experiments performed in vitro showed that pristane-elicited macrophages secreted low levels of IL-6 constitutively and high levels of IL-6 in the presence of lipopolysaccharide. Both IL-6 and prostaglandin E2 production were inhibited by addition of indomethacin to macrophage cultures in vitro. Treatment of mice with pristane may provide a model system for studying the inflammatory pathways that control IL-6 levels in vivo. The relevance of these results to elucidation of the role of IL-6 in plasma cell tumorigenesis is discussed.