Interleukin (IL)-6 deficient mice develop mature-onset obesity. Furthermore, i.c.v. administration of IL-6 increases energy expenditure, suggesting that IL-6 centrally regulates energy homeostasis. To investigate whether it would be possible for IL-6 to directly influence the energy homeostasis via hypothalamic regulation in humans and rodents, we mapped the distribution of the ligand binding IL-6 receptor α (IL-6Rα) in this brain region. In the human hypothalamus, IL-6Rα-immunoreactivity was detected in perikarya and first-order dendrites of neurones. The IL-6Rα-immunoreactive (-IR) neurones were observed posterior to the level of the interventricular foramen. There, IL-6Rα-IR neurones were located in the lateral hypothalamic, perifornical, dorsal and posterior hypothalamic areas, the hypothalamic dorsomedial nucleus and in the zona incerta. In the caudal part of the hypothalamus, the density of the IL-6Rα-IR neurones gradually increased. Double-labelling immunofluorescent studies demonstrated that IL-6Rα immunoreactivity was localised in the same neurones as the orexigenic neuropeptide, melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH). By contrast, IL-6Rα-immunoreactivity was not observed in the orexin B-IR neurones. To determine whether the observed expression of IL-6Rα is evolutionary conserved, we studied the co-localisation of IL-6Rα with MCH and orexin in the mouse hypothalamus, where IL-6Rα-immunoreactivity was present in numerous MCH-IR and orexin-IR neurones. Our data demonstrate that the MCH neurones of the human hypothalamus, as well as the MCH and orexin neurones of the mouse hypothalamus, contain IL-6Rα. This opens up the possibility that IL-6 influences the energy balance through the MCH neurones in humans, and both MCH and orexin neurones in mice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience