Reduction of visceral adipose tissue mass requires IL-6 signalling

Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is detrimental to health, but physical activity can reduce VAT mass. During exercise, skeletal muscle releases IL-6, and IL-6 has been shown to stimulate lipolysis. A new randomized controlled trial investigated changes in VAT mass in 83 adults with abdominal obesity, allocated to receive the IL-6 receptor antibody tocilizumab or placebo during a 12-week intervention of bicycle exercise or no exercise. In participants receiving placebo, exercise reduced VAT mass (−225.1 g, 95% CI −446.7 g to −3.4 g; P = 0.047). By contrast, in participants performing exercise, VAT mass was increased in the tocilizumab group compared with the placebo group (278.2 g, 95% CI 61.69–494.73 g; P = 0.013), indicating that IL-6 is required for VAT mass reduction through exercise.


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  1. Wedell-Neergaard, A. S. et al. Exercise-induced changes in visceral adipose tissue mass are regulated by IL-6 signaling: a randomized controlled trial. Cell Metab. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2018.12.007 (2018)

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Correspondence to Clemens Thoma.

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Thoma, C. Reduction of visceral adipose tissue mass requires IL-6 signalling. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 16, 140 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41575-019-0114-1

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