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Interleukin-6 inhibits voltage-gated sodium channel activity of cultured rat spinal cord neurons

  • Xiaoning Li (a1) (a2), Weiqiang Chen (a2), Jiangtao Sheng (a2), Deliang Cao (a2) and Wanchun Wang (a1)...

Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a pleiotropic proinflammatory cytokine that plays a key role in the injuries and diseases of the central nervous system (CNS). A voltage-gated Na+ channel (VGSC) is essential for the excitability and electrical properties of the neurons. However, there is still limited information on the role of IL-6 in voltage-gated sodium channels. Our study aimed to investigate the effects of IL-6 on Na+ currents in cultured spinal-cord neurons.


VGSC currents were activated and recorded using whole-cell patch-clamp technique in the cultured rat spinal cord neurons. The effects of IL-6 concentration and exposure duration were examined. To determine whether any change in the number of channels in the plasma membrane can inhibit IL-6 on VGSC currents, we examined the expression of α1A (SCN1α) subunit mRNA level and protein level in the neurons before and after IL-6 induction using real-time polymerase chain reaction.


We verified that IL-6, through a receptor-mediated mechanism, suppressed Na+ currents in a time- and dose-dependent manner, but did not alter the voltage-dependent activation and inactivation. Gp130 was involved in this inhibition. Furthermore, the spike amplitude was also inhibited by IL-6 in the doses that decreased the Na+ currents.


VGSC currents are significantly inhibited by IL-6. Our findings reveal that the potential neuroprotection of IL-6 may result from the inhibitory effects on VGSC currents.

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Corresponding author
Wanchun Wang, Department of Orthopaedics, The Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University, Middle Ren-Min Road No. 139, Changsha, Hunan 410011, People's Republic China. Tel: +86 731 8529 5128; Fax: +86 731 8529 5128; E-mail:
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Acta Neuropsychiatrica
  • ISSN: 0924-2708
  • EISSN: 1601-5215
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