Autoimmune diseases Guide

 Other Inflammatory Markers, Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and Cardiovascular Disease

Atherosclerosis and inflammation share similar basic mechanisms involving the adhesion of leukocytes to vascular endothelium in their early phases. There is a strong association between systemic inflammation and coronary artery disease. This association is thought to be causal, i.e. inflammation increases the risk of the disease, rather than simply marking the presence of atherosclerosis, which is an inflammatory process . The relationship between infection and cardiovascular disease is likely to have several mediators (including possibly an autoimmune response against protein on the arterial endothelial cell wall). Cigarette smoking is a well established cardiovascular disease risk factor , as is high body mass index (BMI) , both providing a link between increased inflammation and increased risk. Although regular exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular events, severe exercise has been shown to be associated with a systemic inflammatory response  and increased risk of myocardial infarction . In contrast to the risks of severe exercise, moderate exercise and physical fitness are associated with lower baseline levels of inflammatory mediators .
Inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein and fibrinogen are raised in affected people in both chronic coronary artery disease  and peripheral vascular disease compared with unaffected people . The degree of inflammation correlates with disease severity .
Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is produced and released into the systemic circulation from subcutaneous adipose tissue as well as from cells of the immune system . The levels correlate with BMI and percent body fat. A recent theory is that increased IL-6 may be the link between obesity and insulin resistance . Adipose tissue secretes IL-6 whose levels and those of C-reactive protein also correlate with obesity and insulin resistance. There is strong evidence supporting the central role of IL-6 in the inflammatory response. IL-6 is a 26 kDa cytokine, produced by many different cells in the body, including lymphocytes, monocytes, fibroblasts and endothelial cells.


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