The production of Interleukin 6 (IL-6) was studied during experimental cerebral malaria (ECM) induced by Plasmodium berghei ANKA (PbA) infection. IL-6 is present in the serum of mice with ECM, the highest concentrations being observed in mice with full-blown neurological syndrome. High IL-6 levels were also observed, however, in the absence of pathology in nonlethal malaria infection. These data suggest that IL-6 is produced in large amounts during malaria infection, but does not play a major role in the pathogenesis of ECM. A modulation of IL-6 production in ECM was achieved by in vivo treatment with other anticytokine antibodies: antibodies to interferon (IFN-gamma) or to tumor necrosis factor (TNF) abolished the rise of IL-6, while anti-IL-3 and anti-granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor antibodies only partially prevented this rise, suggesting that the two cytokines IFN-gamma and TNF are important intermediates in IL-6 production. Passive immunization against IL-6 did not prevent ECM, but significantly reduced serum IgG levels in malaria-infected mice. Thus, by its effects on B cells, IL-6 may be involved in hypergammaglobulinemia and immune-complex diseases, e.g., glomerulonephritis observed during malaria infection.

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