Interleukin-6: Possible biological roles during exercise

Dace Reihmane, Flemming Dela

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a multifunctional cytokine that exerts its modulatory effects on cells that express membrane bound IL-6 receptors; however, IL-6 in a complex with soluble IL-6R can bind to any cell that express glycoprotein 130 (gp130). Thus, all cell types may respond to the pro- as well as anti-inflammatory properties of IL-6. Since the first report of acute exercise-induced increase in plasma IL-6 in the early 1990s, scientists have tried to elucidate the factors that influence the magnitude of change of plasma IL-6, as well as the possible biological roles of this cytokine. Evidence suggests that exercise intensity and duration as well as the form of contraction (e.g. eccentric or concentric) and muscle damage all influence IL-6 response to acute exercise. However, data on training status and performance on plasma IL-6 concentration changes during exercise are more inconclusive, as discussed in this review. In the last decade, most of the studies have focused on IL-6 as an 'energy sensor' possibly secreted by skeletal muscle that activates glycogenolysis in the liver and lipolysis in fat tissue in order to provide muscle with the growing energy demands during exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-250
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • exercise
  • inflammation
  • Interleukin-6
  • metabolism

Field of Science*

  • 3.3 Health sciences
  • 3.1 Basic medicine

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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