Interleukin-6–mediated trans-signaling inhibits transforming growth factor-β signaling in trabecular meshwork cells

Miyuki Inoue-Mochita, Toshihiro Inoue, Sachi Kojima, Akiko Futakuchi, Tomokazu Fujimoto, Saori Sato-Ohira, Utako Tsutsumi, Hidenobu Tanihara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Glaucoma is one of the major causes of blindness, and transforming growth factor-β2 (TGF-β2) has been found to be elevated in the aqueous humor of eyes with primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). TGF-β2 in aqueous humor causes the glaucoma-related fibrosis of human trabecular meshwork (HTM), suggesting an important role of TGF-β in POAG pathogenesis. Here, we sought to elucidate the effects of IL-6 trans-signaling on TGF-β signaling in HTM cells. Using a multiplex immunoassay, POAG patients decreased IL-6 levels and increased soluble IL-6 receptor (sIL-6R) levels compared with the controls. In in vitro experiments, we observed that the IL-6 level was increased in the conditioned medium of HTM cells after TGF-β2 stimulation. To elucidate the relationship between TGF-β2 and IL-6 in HTM cells, we conducted Western blotting and immunohistochemical analyses, and we noted that the combination of IL-6 and sIL-6R (IL6/sIL-6R) suppressed TGF-β–induced up-regulation of α-smooth muscle actin in HTM cells, whereas IL-6 alone did not. This suggests that trans-signaling, not classic signaling, of IL-6 suppresses TGF-β–induced fibrosis of HTM. IL6/sIL-6R also suppressed TGF-β–mediated activation of myosin light chain 2 (MLC2), Smad2, and p38. Of note, these inhibitory effects of IL6/sIL-6R on TGF-β were partly reduced by siRNA-mediated knockdown of STAT3. Moreover, IL-6/sIL-6R partly inhibited TGF-β–induced activation of the Smad-sensitive promoter detected with luciferase reporter gene assays and up-regulation of TGFRI and TGFRII, evaluated by quantitative real-time RT-PCR. Strikingly, overexpression of TGFRI and TGFRII diminished these inhibitory effects of IL-6/sIL-6R. We conclude that of IL-6–mediated trans-signaling potently represses TGF-β signaling in HTM cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10975-10984
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number28
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jul 13


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