Elevated plasma interleukin-6 and increased severity and mortality in alcoholic hepatitis

N. Sheron, G. Bird, J. Goka, G. Alexander*, R. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies in alcoholic hepatitis have proposed a role for the cytokine tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) a mediator of endotoxic shock in sepsis. In this study plasma levels of the closely related cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) were assayed in 96 samples from 58 patients with severe alcoholic hepatitis, and 69 patients in control groups (21 normal, 10 alcoholic without liver disease, 10 inactive alcoholic cirrhosis, 18 chronic liver disease, 10 chronic renal failure). Plasma IL-6 levels were markedly elevated in patients with alcoholic hepatitis when compared with all control groups (P < 0.001). IL-6 levels were higher in patients who died (P = 0.04) and correlated with the features of severe disease including: increased grade of encephalopathy, increased neutrophil count, increased prothrombin ratio, hypotension, increased serum creatinine and increased serum bilirubin. Surprisingly, no correlation was found between levels of plasma IL-6 and plasma TNF-α or endotoxin, or the presence of infection; an inverse correlation was found between plasma IL-6 and serum globulins. These findings provide further evidence that the IL-6/TNF cytokine system is activated in severe alcoholic hepatitis and may mediate hepatic or extra-hepatic tissue damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-453
Number of pages5
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumour necrosis factor


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