The Role of Interleukin-6 (IL-6),
Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) and
Inflammation During ARDS

Dr. Roy Brower, Director of Medical Intensive Care a Johns Hopkins Hospital has kindly furnished the ARDS Support Center with the following information on this subject.

IL-6 is one of several chemical substances released in the lungs in inflammatory conditions such as pneumonia. Other inflammatory substances, or mediators, include TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor) and IL-8. These substances usually play beneficial roles in the body's defense systems. However, in some instances, they may be released in overly-abundant amounts. This may cause too much inflammation in the lung, leading to ARDS. Also, if these mediators are released into the bloodstream, they could contribute to inflammation and dysfunction in other organs, such as the kidneys and liver.

There is a lot of research focused on understanding how these substances are formed and released and to how they cause beneficial and harmful effects. In the future, we may have medications that doctors can use to control the activities of these substances, hopefully to allow just the right amount of inflammation to fight infections without causing too much inflammation.