Interleukin (IL)-6, one of the cytokines released from inflammatory cells, stimulates insulin secretion in a physiological concentration (1-100 pg/ml), but the exact mechanism is still unknown. The present studies were undertaken to investigate the mechanism of IL-6-induced stimulation of insulin secretion in HIT-T 15 cells. The effects of the addition of nifedipine on the IL-6 (100 pg/ml)-induced stimulation of insulin secretion were investigated. We also examined the possibility that IL-6 (1-100 pg/ml) may stimulate insulin messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) expression, using the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction method. The addition of 100 and 1000 nM nifedipine significantly attenuated the stimulatory effects of 100 pg/ml IL-6 on insulin secretion. The addition of 1-100 pg/ml IL-6 dose-dependently increased preproinsulin mRNA expression relative to beta-actin mRNA. IL-6 increased insulin gene promoter activity of fragments A (-2188 to +337 bp) and B (-1782 to +270 bp) but not fragments C (-1275 to +270 bp), D (-1138 to +270 bp), E (-880 to +236 bp) or F (-356 to +252 bp). The addition of 10 nM nifedipine completely abolished the stimulatory effect of 10-100 pg/ml IL-6 on relative preproinsulin mRNA expression. These data raised the possibility that IL-6 increased preproinsulin mRNA expression via the stimulation of Ca(2+) influx which enhances insulin gene expression.
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