IL-6 inhibition reduces neuronal injury in a murine model of ventilator-induced lung injury

Nicklaus A. Sparrow, Faizan Anwar, Ambart E. Covarrubias, Padmesh S. Rajput, Mohammad Harun Rashid, Peyton L. Nisson, Michael M. Gezalian, Shahed Toossi, Maranatha O. Ayodele, S. Ananth Karumanchi, E. Wesley Ely, Shouri Lahiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Mechanical ventilation is a known risk factor for delirium, a cognitive impairment characterized by dysfunction of the frontal cortex and hippocampus. Although IL-6 is upregulated in mechanical ventilation–induced lung injury (VILI) and may contribute to delirium, it is not known whether the inhibition of systemic IL-6 mitigates delirium-relevant neuropathology. To histologically define neuropathological effects of IL-6 inhibition in an experimental VILI model, VILI was simulated in anesthetized adult mice using a 35 cc/kg tidal volume mechanical ventilation model. There were two control groups, as follow: 1) spontaneously breathing or 2) anesthetized and mechanically ventilated with 10 cc/kg tidal volume to distinguish effects of anesthesia from VILI. Two hours before inducing VILI, mice were treated with either anti–IL-6 antibody, anti–IL-6 receptor antibody, or saline. Neuronal injury, stress, and inflammation were assessed using immunohistochemistry. CC3 (cleaved caspase-3), a neuronal apoptosis marker, was significantly increased in the frontal (P, 0.001) and hippocampal (P, 0.0001) brain regions and accompanied by significant increases in c-Fos and heat shock protein-90 in the frontal cortices of VILI mice compared with control mice (P, 0.001). These findings were not related to cerebral hypoxia, and there was no evidence of irreversible neuronal death. Frontal and hippocampal neuronal CC3 were significantly reduced with anti–IL-6 antibody (P, 0.01 and P, 0.0001, respectively) and anti–IL-6 receptor antibody (P, 0.05 and P, 0.0001, respectively) compared with saline VILI mice. In summary, VILI induces potentially reversible neuronal injury and inflammation in the frontal cortex and hippocampus, which is mitigated with systemic IL-6 inhibition. These data suggest a potentially novel neuroprotective role of systemic IL-6 inhibition that justifies further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-412
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Delirium
  • IL-6
  • Neuronal injury
  • VILI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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