Soluble interleukin-6 receptor induces motor stereotypies and co-localizes with gp130 in regions linked to cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical circuits

Ankur Patel, Youhua Zhu, Eldo V. Kuzhikandathil, William A. Banks, Allan Siegel, Steven S. Zalcman

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29 Scopus citations


Soluble cytokine receptors are normal constituents of body fluids that regulate peripheral cytokine and lymphoid activity and whose levels are increased in states of immune activation. Soluble interleukin-6 receptor (sIL-6R) levels positively correlate with disease progression in some autoimmune conditions and psychiatric disorders. Particularly strong links between levels of sIL-6R and the severity of psychotic symptoms occur in schizophrenia, raising the possibility that sIL-6R is involved in this disease. However, there is no evidence that peripheral sIL-6R induces relevant behavioral disturbances. We showed that single subcutaneous injections of sIL-6R (0-1 μg), stimulated novelty stress-induced exploratory motor behaviors in male Balb/c mice within 20-40-min of injection. A progressive increase in vertical stereotypies was observed 40-80 min post injection, persisting for the remainder of the test session. Paralleling these stimulant-like effects, sIL-6R pre-treatment significantly enhanced stereotypy scores following challenge with GBR 12909. We found that peripherally administered sIL-6R crossed the blood-brain barrier, localizing in brain regions associated with cortico-striatal-thalamo-cortical (CSTC) circuits, which are putative neuroanatomical substrates of disorders associated with repetitive stereotypies. Peripherally administered sIL-6R co-localized with gp130, a transmembrane protein involved in IL-6 trans-signaling, in the nucleus accumbens, caudate-putamen, motor and infralimbic cortices, and thalamic nuclei, but not with gp130 in the ventral tegmental area, substantia nigra, or sensorimotor cortex,. The results suggest that peripheral sIL-6R can act as a neuroimmune messenger, crossing the blood brain barrier (BBB) to selectively target CSTC circuits rich in IL-6 trans-signaling protein, and inducing repetitive stereotypies. As such sIL-6R may represent a novel therapeutic agent for relevant psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere41623
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 23 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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