Inhibition of interleukin-6 trans-signaling prevents inflammation and endothelial barrier disruption in retinal endothelial cells

Maria L. Valle, Janine Dworshak, Ashok Sharma, Ahmed S. Ibrahim, Mohamed Al-Shabrawey, Shruti Sharma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Vascular inflammation plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy. Recently, Interleukin-6 (IL-6) trans-signaling via soluble IL-6 receptor (sIL-6R) has emerged as a prominent regulator of inflammation in endothelial cells. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that selective inhibition of the IL-6 trans-signaling pathway will attenuate inflammation and subsequent barrier disruption in retinal endothelial cells. Human retinal endothelial cells (HRECs) were exposed to IL-6 and sIL-6R to induce IL-6 trans-signaling and the commercially available compound sgp130Fc (soluble gp-130 fused chimera) was used to selectively inhibit IL-6 trans-signaling. IL-6 trans-signaling activation caused a significant increase in STAT3 phosphorylation, expression of adhesion molecules, ROS production and apoptosis in HRECs whereas a significant decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential and NO production was observed in IL-6 trans-signaling activated cells. These changes were not observed in cells pre-treated with sgp130Fc. IL-6 trans-signaling activation was sufficient to cause barrier disruption in endothelial monolayers and pre-treatment of HRECs with sgp130Fc, maintained endothelial barrier function similar to that of untreated cells. Thus, in conclusion, these results indicate that IL-6 trans-signaling is an important mediator of inflammation, apoptosis and barrier disruptive effects in the retinal endothelial cells and inhibition of the IL-6 trans-signaling pathway using sgp130-Fc attenuates vascular inflammation and endothelial barrier disruption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-36
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental eye research
StatePublished - Jan 2019



  • Endothelial cells
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-6
  • Trans-signaling
  • sgp130

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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