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eISSN: 1643-3750

Interleukin-6 Serum Levels Are Elevated in Individuals with Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy and Are Correlated with Symptom Severity

Shengchao Du, Yuan Sun, Bizeng Zhao

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Shanghai Jiao Tong University Affiliated Sixth People’s Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2018; 24:7405-7413

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.912868

Available online:

Published: 2018-10-17

BACKGROUND: Few studies have investigated systemic inflammation levels in degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM). This study evaluated the concentration of inflammatory cytokines in DCM patients and assessed whether they can predict symptom severity.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: A total of 40 consecutive DCM patients and 10 healthy volunteers were included in this study. Concentrations of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, interferon-γ, and tumor necrosis factor-α were compared between DCM patients and normal controls. Spearman’s correlation coefficient was used to examine relationships of cytokines with age, body mass index (BMI), symptom duration, and symptom severity. A DCM compression rat model was established to examine the levels of inflammatory cytokines in serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
RESULTS: Serum level of IL-6 is significantly higher in DCM patients compared with normal people (0.8±0.5 pg/ml vs. 0.5±0.3 pg/ml, P=0.036). Positive correlations were found between IL-6 levels with BMI (r=0.519; P=0.001) and symptom severity (ρ=–0.556, P<0.001). In DCM compression model rats, IL-6 was elevated in CSF (40.5±3.3 vs. 13.2±2.4 pg/ml, P<0.001) and serum (7.1±1.7 vs. 2.9±1.6 pg/ml, P<0.001) samples from rats in the compression operation group compared with the sham operation group. Infusion of IL-6 in rats receiving the sham operation also led to motor function damage and mechanical allodynia threshold decline.
CONCLUSIONS: Serum IL-6 level was elevated in DCM patients and its concentration can predict symptom severity. Local infusion of IL-6 led to myelopathy symptoms in model rats, which suggests that anti-inflammation can effectively treat DCM.

Keywords: Inflammation, Receptors, Interleukin-6, Spinal Cord Compression