Accelerated control of visceral Leishmania donovani infection in interleukin-6-deficient mice
In patients with visceral leishmaniasis, increased levels of circulating interleukin-6 (IL-6) regularly accompany fully expressed, progressive infections (kala-azar). To experimentally test the role of IL-6, responses to an intracellular Leishmania donovani infection in the livers of IL-6(-/-) and wild-type mice were compared. IL-6(-/-) mice showed an enhanced control of the infection and earlier, rapid parasite killing along with additional evidence of a stimulated antileishmanial Th1-cell-type response: increased levels of circulating gamma interferon, accelerated granuloma assembly, and heightened responsiveness to chemotherapy. In this model of visceral leishmaniasis, IL-6 appears to act in a suppressive, macrophage-deactivating fashion, which identifies it as a potential target for therapeutic blockade.