Pro-inflammatory interleukin-6 signaling links cognitive impairments and peripheral metabolic alterations in Alzheimer's disease

Natalia M Lyra E Silva, Rafaella A Gonçalves, Tharick A Pascoal, Ricardo A S Lima-Filho, Elisa de Paula França Resende, Erica L M Vieira, Antonio L Teixeira, Leonardo C de Souza, Julyanna A Peny, Juliana T S Fortuna, Isadora C Furigo, Debora Hashiguchi, Vivian S Miya-Coreixas, Julia R Clarke, Jose F Abisambra, Beatriz M Longo, Jose Donato, Paul E Fraser, Pedro Rosa-Neto, Paulo CaramelliSergio T Ferreira, Fernanda G De Felice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is associated with memory impairment and altered peripheral metabolism. Mounting evidence indicates that abnormal signaling in a brain-periphery metabolic axis plays a role in AD pathophysiology. The activation of pro-inflammatory pathways in the brain, including the interleukin-6 (IL-6) pathway, comprises a potential point of convergence between memory dysfunction and metabolic alterations in AD that remains to be better explored. Using T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), we observed signs of probable inflammation in the hypothalamus and in the hippocampus of AD patients when compared to cognitively healthy control subjects. Pathological examination of post-mortem AD hypothalamus revealed the presence of hyperphosphorylated tau and tangle-like structures, as well as parenchymal and vascular amyloid deposits surrounded by astrocytes. T2 hyperintensities on MRI positively correlated with plasma IL-6, and both correlated inversely with cognitive performance and hypothalamic/hippocampal volumes in AD patients. Increased IL-6 and suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3) were observed in post-mortem AD brains. Moreover, activation of the IL-6 pathway was observed in the hypothalamus and hippocampus of AD mice. Neutralization of IL-6 and inhibition of the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) signaling in the brains of AD mouse models alleviated memory impairment and peripheral glucose intolerance, and normalized plasma IL-6 levels. Collectively, these results point to IL-6 as a link between cognitive impairment and peripheral metabolic alterations in AD. Targeting pro-inflammatory IL-6 signaling may be a strategy to alleviate memory impairment and metabolic alterations in the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number251
Number of pages15
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit


This work was supported by grants from National Institute for Translational Neuroscience (INNT/Brazil) (to S.T.F. and F.G.F.), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (to P.F.), National Institute of Health (NIH) (to J.F.A. and University of Kentucky ADC), Department of Defense (to J.F.A.), the Brazilian funding agencies Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) (to S.T.F., F.G.F., P.C., L.C.S., A.L.T.), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ) (to S.T.F. and F.G.F.). N.M.L.S., R.A.G., R.A.S.L.F., J.A.P., J.T.S.F., V.S.M.C. received fellowships from Brazilian agencies FAPERJ, CAPES or CNPq.


  • Alzheimer Disease
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides/metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cognitive Dysfunction
  • Hippocampus/diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6
  • Mice
  • Plaque, Amyloid


Dive into the research topics of 'Pro-inflammatory interleukin-6 signaling links cognitive impairments and peripheral metabolic alterations in Alzheimer's disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this