Interleukin-6 Disrupts Synaptic Plasticity and Impairs Tissue Damage Compensation in Multiple Sclerosis

Mario Stampanoni Bassi, Ennio Iezzi, Francesco Mori, Ilaria Simonelli, Luana Gilio, Fabio Buttari, Francesco Sica, Nicla De Paolis, Georgia Mandolesi, Alessandra Musella, Francesca De Vito, Ettore Dolcetti, Antonio Bruno, Roberto Furlan, Annamaria Finardi, Girolama A Marfia, Diego Centonze, Francesca Romana Rizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Synaptic plasticity helps in reducing the clinical expression of brain damage and represents a useful mechanism to compensate the negative impact of new brain lesions in multiple sclerosis (MS). Inflammation, altering synaptic plasticity, could negatively influence the disease course in relapsing-remitting MS (RR-MS). Objective: In the present study, we explored whether interleukin (IL)-6, a major proinflammatory cytokine involved in MS pathogenesis, alters synaptic plasticity and affects the ability to compensate for ongoing brain damage. Methods: The effect of IL-6 incubation on long-term potentiation (LTP) induction was explored in vitro, in mice hippocampal slices. We also explored the correlation between the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of this cytokine and the LTP-like effect induced by the paired associative stimulation (PAS) in a group of RR-MS patients. Finally, we examined the correlation between the CSF levels of IL-6 at the time of diagnosis and the prospective disease activity in a cohort of 150 RR-MS patients. Results:In vitro LTP induction was abolished by IL-6. Consistently, in patients with MS, a negative correlation emerged between IL-6 CSF concentrations and the effect of PAS. In MS patients, longer disease duration before diagnosis was associated with higher IL-6 CSF concentrations. In addition, elevated CSF levels of IL-6 were associated with greater clinical expression of new inflammatory brain lesions, unlike in patients with low or absent IL-6 concentrations, who had a better disease course. Conclusions: IL-6 interfering with synaptic plasticity mechanisms may impair the ability to compensate the clinical manifestation of new brain lesions in RR-MS patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1545968319868713
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Publication statusPublished - Aug 20 2019


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