2004 Volume 45 Issue 2 Pages 183-193
Inflammatory cytokines are important for both cardiovascular scientists and practicing clinicians. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) has been emphasized by reports of elevated circulating as well as intracardiac IL-6 levels in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF). IL-6 may contribute to the progression of myocardial damage and dysfunction in chronic heart failure syndrome resulting from different causes. As the cause of CHF in cardiomyopathy, myocarditis, allograft rejection, and left ventricular assist device (LVADs) conditions, circulating IL-6 levels are associated with the severity of left ventricular dysfunction, and are also strong predictors of subsequent clinical outcomes. Continuous and excessive production of IL-6 promotes myocardial injury by breaking down both cytokine networks and viral clearance under viral myocarditis. Although IL-6 is likely important in the process of viral antigen presentation, early activation of immune responses and attenuation of viral replication also appear to be significant in an animal model of viral myocarditis. IL-6 can cause cardiac hypertrophy through the IL-6 signal transducing receptor component, glycoprotein 130. There are several interesting cases of cardiac myxoma complicated with mediastinal lymphadenopathy or left ventricular hypertrophy. Increased expression of IL-6 is observed in the myocardium of all donor hearts showing marked dysfunction. Myocardial IL-6 concentrations are also significantly higher in LVAD candidates compared with advanced heart failure patients. Although the IL-6 family plays a central role in the pathophysiology of cardiovascular diseases, it remains to be determined whether the IL-6 family is beneficial or detrimental. Future study will be needed to resolve this question.