Age-associated increase in cytokine production during systemic inflammation: Adipose tissue as a major source of IL-6

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120 Scopus citations


Increased mortality and overexpression of interleukin-6 (IL-6) during inflammatory stress are well-documented age-associated phenomena; however, the site of IL-6 overexpression is not entirely known. Here, we report that white adipose tissue is a major source of IL-6 in aged animals during lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced systemic inflammation. Among the various tissues examined, white adipose tissue from the epididymal fat pad (located in the abdominal cavity) expressed the highest level of IL-6 messenger RNA in both young and aged mice with a 5.5-fold higher level in the aged. Immunohistochemistry revealed that, within the adipose tissue, LPS-induced IL-6 expression is localized to both the adipocytes and stromal cells. Compared with age-matched wild-type mice, aged IL-6 (-/-) mice exhibited reduced mortality to LPS suggesting a deleterious effect of IL-6 overexpression in the aged. These results demonstrate that increased vulnerability to systemic inflammation with age is due in part, to augmented IL-6 production by the adipose tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-730
Number of pages8
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Karen Martin for manuscript preparation and Drs Hitoshi Takahashi and Shoji Yamamoto for technical advice. This study was presented, in part, at the 60th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America and Marlene E. Starr received the 2007 George Sacher Student Award for best student poster presentation. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health Grant RO1-AG025908. Additional support came from the UTMB, Claude D. Pepper, Older Americans Independence Center, NIH P30A6024832.


  • Adipose tissue
  • Aging
  • Endotoxemia
  • IL-6
  • Sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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