We have investigated the involvement of interleukin-6 (IL-6) in the induction of the gene encoding the acute-phase protein human C-reactive protein (hCRP). In transgenic mice the hCRP gene can be induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS), but not by IL-6. In contrast, hCRP was inducible by IL-6 in primary human hepatocytes and in primary hepatocytes isolated from transgenic mice. To further evaluate the role of IL-6, we introduced the hCRP transgene into animals lacking endogenous IL-6 (IL-6-negative mice). Here, hCRP was not inducible by LPS, but was induced by a combination of LPS and IL-6. These results clearly demonstrate that IL-6 is necessary, but not sufficient, for the induction of hCRP expression. These animal models will allow further dissection of the cytokine network responsible for the regulation of the major human acute-phase reactant CRP.

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