IL-6 promotes epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition of human peritoneal mesothelial cells possibly through the JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway

Jing Xiao, Yanan Gong, Ying Chen, Dahai Yu, Xiaoyang Wang, Xiaoxue Zhang, Yanna Dou, Dong Liu, Genyang Cheng, Shan Lu, Wenming Yuan, Yansheng Li, Zhanzheng Zhao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Long-term peritoneal dialysis (PD) therapy results in functional and structural alteration of the peritoneal membrane, including epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is a local pleiotropic cytokine, hypothesized to play an important role in EMT. This study was designed to investigate the role of IL-6 in EMT and peritoneal membrane dysfunction in long-term PD patients by assessing the level of IL-6 in dialysate and exploring the relationship between IL-6, the related signaling pathway JAK2/STAT3, and EMT, using in vitro cellular and molecular techniques. Plasma and dialysate levels of IL-6 were significantly higher in PD ultrafiltration failure patients compared with patients without ultrafiltration failure and were negatively correlated with measures of PD adequacy. In vitro IL-6 treatment changed human peritoneal mesothelial cell phenotype from a typical cobblestone-like to a fibroblast-like appearance and increased cell viability. IL-6 treatment increased α-smooth muscle actin and vascular endothelial growth factor expression but decreased E-cadherin expression. IL-6 treatment activated the JAK/STAT signaling pathway. However, the JAK2/STAT3 inhibitor WP1066 prevented IL-6induced activation of the JAK2/STAT3 pathway and EMT. We conclude that IL-6 promotes the EMT process, possibly by activating the JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway. IL-6 may serve as a novel therapeutic target for preventing EMT, and preservation of the peritoneal membrane may arise from these studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F310-F318
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition
  • Human peritoneal mesothelial cells
  • Interleukin 6
  • JAK2/STAT3
  • Peritoneal dialysis
  • WP1066

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