Lipopolysaccharide and proinflammatory cytokines stimulate interleukin-6 expression in C2C12 myoblasts: Role of the Jun NH2-terminal kinase

Robert A. Frost, Gerald J. Nystrom, Charles H. Lang

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78 Scopus citations


IL-6 is a major inflammatory cytokine that plays a central role in coordinating the acute-phase response to trauma, injury, and infection in vivo. Although IL-6 is synthesized predominantly by macrophages and lymphocytes, skeletal muscle is a newly recognized source of this cytokine. IL-6 from muscle spills into the circulation, and blood-borne IL-6 can be elevated >100-fold due to exercise and injury. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether inflammatory stimuli, such as LPS, TNF-α, and IL-1β, could increase IL-6 expression in skeletal muscle and C2C12 myoblasts. Second, we investigated the role of mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases, and the Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) in particular, as a mediator of this response. Intraperitoneal injection of LPS in mice increased the circulating concentration of IL-6 from undetectable levels to 4 ng/ml. LPS also increased IL-6 mRNA 100-fold in mouse fast-twitch skeletal muscle. Addition of LPS, IL-1β, or TNF-α directly to C2C12 myoblasts increased IL-6 protein (6- to 8-fold) and IL-6 mRNA (5- to 10-fold). The response to all three stimuli was completely blocked by the JNK inhibitor SP-600125 but not as effectively by other MAP kinase inhibitors. SP-600125 blocked LPS-stimulated IL-6 synthesis dose dependently at both the RNA and protein level. SP-600125 was as effective as the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone at inhibiting IL-6 expression. SP-600125 inhibited IL-6 synthesis when added to cells up to 60 min after LPS stimulation, but its inhibitory effect waned with time. LPS stimulated IL-6 mRNA in both myoblasts and myotubes, but myoblasts showed a proportionally greater LPS-induced increase in IL-6 protein expression compared with myotubes. SP-600125 and the proteasomal inhibitor MG-132 blocked LPS-induced degradation of IκB-α/ε and LPS-stimulated expression of IκB-α mRNA. Yet, only SP-600125 and not MG-132 blocked LPS-induced IL-6 mRNA expression. This suggests that IL-6 gene expression is a downstream target of JNK in C2C12 myoblasts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1153-R1164
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number5 54-5
StatePublished - Nov 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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