Hypoxemia increases serum interleukin-6 in humans

Tom Klausen*, Niels Vidiendal Olsen, Troels Dirch Poulsen, Jean Paul Richalet, Bente Klarlund Pedersen

*Corresponding author for this work
116 Citations (Scopus)


Serum concentrations of interleukin (IL) 1 beta, IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra), IL-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha, and C-reactive protein (CRP) were determined in ten healthy men at sea level and during four days of altitude hypoxia (4350 m above sea level). The mean (SD) arterial blood oxygen saturations were 78.6 (7.3)%, 82.4 (4.9)%, and 83.4 (5.3)% in the first, second, and third days at altitude, respectively. A symptom score of acute mountain sickness (AMS) revealed that the subjects had mostly light symptoms of AMS. Mean serum IL-6 increased from 1.36 (1.04) pg x ml-1 at sea level to 3.10 (1.65), 4.71 (2.81), and 3,54 (2.17) pg x ml-1 during the first three days at altitude, and to 9.96 (8.90) pg x ml-1 on the fourth day at altitude (ANOVA p = 0.002). No changes occurred in serum concentrations of IL-1 beta, IL-1ra, TNF alpha, or CRP. The serum IL-6 were related to SaO2 (r = -0.45, p = 0.003), but not to heart rates or AMS scores. In conclusion, human serum concentrations of IL-6 increased during altitude hypoxia whereas the other proinflammatory cytokines remained unchanged. The major role of IL-6 during altitude hypoxia seem not to be mediation of inflammation, instead, the role of IL-6 could be to stimulate the erythropoiesis at altitude.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)480-482
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • C-reactive protein
  • Cytokines
  • Erythropoietin
  • Hypoxia
  • Interleukin-6


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