The immunoregulatory cytokine interleukin 6 (IL-6) directly upregulates production of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in acutely as well as in chronically infected cells of monocytic lineage. In addition, IL-6 synergizes with tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) in the induction of latent HIV expression. Unlike TNF-alpha, upregulation of viral expression induced by IL-6 alone does not occur at the transcriptional level and it is not associated with accumulation of HIV RNA. However, when IL-6 and TNF-alpha synergistically stimulate HIV production, accumulation of HIV RNA and increased transcription are observed, indicating that IL-6 affects HIV expression at multiple (transcriptional and post-transcriptional) levels.

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