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A recent clinical study in mothers with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) published in this journal reported that high maternal serum levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) are associated with low birthweight deliveries.1 Low birth weight in turn is associated with impaired growth during childhood.2 Interestingly, overexpression of IL-6 leads to reduced bone growth in mice.3 Although the systemic effects of IL-6 are well understood, any local effects on the growth plate have not yet been clarified. Aiming to study the local actions of IL-6, we isolated fetal rat metatarsal bones and cultured them ex vivo for 12 days while monitoring bone growth. When exposed to IL-6 and its soluble receptor IL-6Rα (10+100 ng/mL), growth was decreased by 21.1% compared with control (p<0.001) (figure 1A). IL-6 mainly targeted the hypertrophic growth plate zone, reducing its height by 53.7% and area by 72.6% (p<0.05 vs control; figure 1B). These data further …
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