Stimulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis by proinflammatory cytokines results in increased release of glucocorticoid that restrains further development of the inflammatory process. IL-6 has been suggested to stimulate the HPA axis during immune activation independent of the input of hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). We used the corticotropin-releasing hormone–deficient (Crh+/+) mouse to elucidate the effect of CRH deficiency on IL-6 expression and IL-6–induced HPA axis activation during turpentine-induced inflammation. We demonstrate that during inflammation CRH is required for a normal adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) increase but not for adrenal corticosterone rise. The paradoxical increase of plasma IL-6 associated with CRH deficiency suggests that IL-6 release during inflammation is CRH-dependent. We also demonstrate that adrenal IL-6 expression is CRH-dependent, as its basal and inflammation-induced expression is blocked by CRH deficiency. Our findings suggest that during inflammation, IL-6 most likely compensates for the effects of CRH deficiency on food intake. Finally, we confirm that the HPA axis response is defective in Crh+/+/IL-6+/+ mice. These findings, along with the regulation of IL-6 by CRH, support the importance of the interaction between the immune system and the HPA axis in the pathophysiology of inflammatory diseases.


Maria Venihaki, Pieter Dikkes, Allison Carrigan, Katia P. Karalis


Download this citation for these citation managers:

Or, download this citation in these formats:

If you experience problems using these citation formats, send us feedback.