Skeletal muscle wasting and renewal: a pivotal role of myokine IL-6

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Adult skeletal tissue is composed of heterogeneous population of cells that constantly self-renew by means of a controlled process of activation and proliferation of tissue-resident stem cells named satellite cells. Many growth factors, cytokines and myokines produced by skeletal muscle cells play critical roles in local regulation of the inflammatory process and skeletal muscle regeneration during different pathological conditions. IL-6 is a pleiotropic cytokine released in large amount during infection, autoimmunity and cancer. Low levels of IL-6 can promote activation of satellite cells and myotube regeneration while chronically elevated production promote skeletal muscle wasting. These distinct effects may be explained by a crosstalk of the IL-6/IL-6 receptor and gp130 trans-signaling pathway that oppose to regenerative and anti-inflammatory of the classical IL-6 receptor signaling pathway. Here we discuss on potential therapeutic strategies using monoclonal antibodies to IL-6R for the treatment of skeletal muscle wasting and cachexia. We also highlight on the IL-6/JAK/STAT and FGF/p38αβ MAPK signaling pathways in satellite cell activation and the use of protein kinase inhibitors for tailoring and optimizing satellite cell proliferation during the skeletal muscle renewal. Future investigations on the roles of the IL-6 classical and trans-signaling pathways in both immune and non-immune cells in skeletal muscle tissue will provide new basis for therapeutic approaches to reverse atrophy and degeneration of skeletal muscles in cancer and inflammatory diseases.


  • José E. Belizário
  • Cibely C. Fontes-Oliveira
  • Janaina Padua Borges
  • Janete Akemi Kashiabara
  • Edouard Vannier
External organisations
  • University of São Paulo
  • Tufts Medical Center
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physiology
  • Cell and Molecular Biology


  • Anti-IL-6 receptor monoclonal antibodies, Cancer cachexia, Exercise, IL-6, IL-6/IL-6R/gp130 signaling pathway, Jak/STAT signaling, Satellite cells, Skeletal muscle
Original languageEnglish
Article number619
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Dec 1
Publication categoryResearch