JOURNAL ARTICLE

Macrophage-stimulated cardiac fibroblast production of IL-6 is essential for TGF β/Smad activation and cardiac fibrosis induced by angiotensin II

Feifei Ma, Yulin Li, Lixin Jia, Yalei Han, Jizhong Cheng, Huihua Li, Yongfen Qi, Jie Du
PloS One 2012, 7 (5): e35144
22574112
Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is an important cytokine participating in multiple biologic activities in immune regulation and inflammation. IL-6 has been associated with cardiovascular remodeling. However, the mechanism of IL-6 in hypertensive cardiac fibrosis is still unclear. Angiotensin II (Ang II) infusion in mice increased IL-6 expression in the heart. IL-6 knockout (IL-6-/-) reduced Ang II-induced cardiac fibrosis: 1) Masson trichrome staining showed that Ang II infusion significantly increased fibrotic areas of the wild-type mouse heart, which was greatly suppressed in IL-6-/- mice and 2) immunohistochemistry staining showed decreased expression of α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1) and collagen I in IL-6-/- mouse heart. The baseline mRNA expression of IL-6 in cardiac fibroblasts was low and was absent in cardiomyocytes or macrophages; however, co-culture of cardiac fibroblasts with macrophages significantly increased IL-6 production and expression of α-SMA and collagen I in fibroblasts. Moreover, TGF-β1 expression and phosphorylation of TGF-β downstream signal Smad3 was stimulated by co-culture of macrophages with cardiac fibroblasts, while IL-6 neutralizing antibody decreased TGF-β1 expression and Smad3 phosphorylation in co-culture of macrophage and fibroblast. Taken together, our results indicate that macrophages stimulate cardiac fibroblasts to produce IL-6, which leads to TGF-β1 production and Smad3 phosphorylation in cardiac fibroblasts and thus stimulates cardiac fibrosis.

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