Interleukin-6 in pregnancy and gestational disorders

Jelmer R. Prins, Nardhy Gomez-Lopez, Sarah A. Robertson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

200 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

IL6 is a multifunctional cytokine with pivotal roles in the inflammatory response and in directing T cell differentiation in adaptive immunity. IL6 is widely expressed in the female reproductive tract and gestational tissues, and exerts regulatory functions in embryo implantation and placental development, as well as the immune adaptations required to tolerate pregnancy. Here, we summarise the current understanding of how membrane-bound and soluble receptors mediate IL6 signalling to regulate leukocytes and non-haemopoietic cells. We review the published literature regarding the expression and actions of IL6 in the uterus, decidua and placenta, and studies implicating this cytokine in pregnancy disorders. Elevated IL6 is frequently evident in the altered cytokine profiles characteristic of unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriage, preeclampsia and preterm delivery. Notably, there is compelling evidence indicating altered systemic IL6 trans-signalling in women prone to recurrent miscarriage, with excessive IL6 bioavailability potentially inhibiting generation of CD4+ T regulatory cells required for pregnancy tolerance. Insufficient local IL6 may also contribute to fetal loss, since IL6 expression is reduced in the endometrium of women with recurrent miscarriage, and in the fetal-placental tissue of CBA x DBA/2 mice. Consistent with the role of 16 in key reproductive events, 116 null mutant mice exhibit elevated fetal resorption and delayed parturition. Investigation of the association between IL6 signalling components and T cell responses in pregnant women, as well as detailed analysis of the maternal immune response in IL6-deficient mice, is now required to define the mechanisms by which this cytokine exerts influence on reproductive success. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Reproductive Immunology
Volume95
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2012

Keywords

  • Pregnancy
  • Implantation
  • Miscarriage
  • Preeclampsia
  • Preterm birth
  • Cytokine
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-6
  • REGULATORY T-CELLS
  • TUMOR-NECROSIS-FACTOR
  • HUMAN CHORIONIC-GONADOTROPIN
  • LEUKEMIA INHIBITORY FACTOR
  • MESSENGER-RNA EXPRESSION
  • HUMAN TROPHOBLAST CELLS
  • PRIMARY UNEXPLAINED INFERTILITY
  • RECURRENT SPONTANEOUS-ABORTIONS
  • TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR FOXP3
  • SPONTANEOUS PRETERM BIRTH

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