Soluble interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor/IL-6 fusion protein enhances in vitro differentiation of purified rat oligodendroglial lineage cells

Alessandra Valerio, Marina Ferrario, Michel Dreano, Gianni Garotta, Pierfranco Spano, Marina Pizzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the effects of a chimeric protein (IL6RIL6 chimera) containing interleukin-6 (IL-6) fused to its soluble receptor (sIL-6R) on the proliferation and/or differentiation of rat oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) and on oligodendrocyte survival. Exposure of OPCs to IL6RIL6 chimera for 48 h induced a dose-dependent decrease of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation. IL6RIL6 chimera treatment for 48 h also strongly increased the reduction of the tetrazolium salt 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)- 2H-tetrazolium (MTS) by mitochondrial enzymes and enhanced oligodendrocyte staining with a mitochondrial fluorescent dye. A strong, dose-dependent increase in the number and length of processes immunostained for early (galactocerebroside) or late (myelin basic protein) oligodendrocyte differentiation markers was revealed after OPC treatment with IL6RIL6 chimera for 2-7 days, respectively. Moreover, treatment with IL6RIL6 chimera improved oligodendrocyte survival. The chimera-induced increase of oligodendrocyte arborization was mimicked, although with lower efficacy, by ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) but not by IL-6 and was reduced in the presence of a gp130 soluble peptide which is able to inhibit the gp130-mediated signals of the IL-6/sIL-6R complex. Oligodendrocyte treatment with IL6RIL6 chimera for 30 min induced both signal transducer and the activator of transcription-1 (STAT-1) and STAT-3 phosphorylation and nuclear translocation. We conclude that, by interacting with membrane gp130 and possibly by activating Janus kinase/STAT pathways, IL6RIL6 chimera induces OPCs to differentiate into mature oligodendrocytes, promotes their survival, and could deserve investigation as a therapeutic strategy for enhancing remyelination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)602-615
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular and Cellular Neuroscience
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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