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Fibroblasts are major contributors to and regulators of inflammation and dominant producers of interleukin-6 (IL-6) in inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Yet, compared to leukocytes, the regulation of inflammatory pathways in fibroblasts is largely unknown. Here, we report that analyses of genes coordinately upregulated with IL-6 pointed to STAT4 and leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) as potentially linked. Gene silencing revealed that STAT4 was required for IL-6 transcription. STAT4 was recruited to the IL-6 promoter after fibroblast activation, and LIF receptor (LIFR) and STAT4 formed a molecular complex that, together with JAK1 and TYK2 kinases, controlled STAT4 activation. Importantly, a positive feedback loop involving autocrine LIF, LIFR, and STAT4 drove sustained IL-6 transcription. Besides IL-6, this autorine loop also drove the production of other key inflammatory factors including IL-8, granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), IL-33, IL-11, IL-1α, and IL-1β. These findings define the transcriptional regulation of fibroblast-mediated inflammation as distinct from leukocytes. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Hung N Nguyen, Erika H Noss, Fumitaka Mizoguchi, Christine Huppertz, Kevin S Wei, Gerald F M Watts, Michael B Brenner. Autocrine Loop Involving IL-6 Family Member LIF, LIF Receptor, and STAT4 Drives Sustained Fibroblast Production of Inflammatory Mediators. Immunity. 2017 Feb 21;46(2):220-232

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PMID: 28228280

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