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Interleukin-6 is anabolic factor

Mice that are injected with synthetic interleukin-6 burn more fat and their muscle cells become more sensitive to insulin, according to a study that Australian molecular scientists will publish soon in the Journal of Endocrinology.

There is something strange about interleukine-6, IL-6 for short. Researchers regard IL-6 as an inflammatory protein, a protein that cells produce when the body is under stress, for example after a heavy training session. The more IL-6 circulating in your body the worse condition you are in.

Interleukin-6 is anabolic factor
According to the text books, inflammatory proteins like IL-6 make your muscle cells insensitive to insulin, as a result of which they can absorb less fuel. Not something you should inject your body with, you might say.

Scientists have got quite worried about the substances that interleukin-6 can block. And because interleukin-6 also plays a role in the tiredness that occurs through physical effort, they were also worried that athletes would use interleukin-6 blockers as brainpower drugs.

But, on the other hand, there have been rumours going around the doping world for years about bodybuilders that use interleukin-6 for doping. These have been written up by Brian Batcheldor in a column for Testosterone Nation.

"Yes, there are a handful of bodybuilders who have experimented with interleukin-6, although I have only actually spoken with one", Batcheldor wrote. "He claimed that he made gains from using it, but then he'd also go out searching for sheep eggs if I told him that they were the ideal protein source. In general, there may still be a lot to learn about the role of interleukin-6, but the evidence indicates a negative impact from self-administration, so give this one a miss." []


Now, if there's one thing we ageing doping reporters have learned, it's that if athletes say "a" about doping and scientists say "b", then it's usually best to assume that it's "a" and not "b". The recent scientific news on interleukin-6 proves the validity of this rule of thumb.

The Australian researchers gave their lab animals interleukin-6 for two weeks. When they examined the animals after the two weeks, they saw that the muscle and liver cells had started to make more of the protein UCP-2 and more of the fat receptor PPAR-alpha. UCP2 is a protein that increases fat burning; cells with more PPAR-alpha absorb more fatty acids.

On paper interleukin-6 is therefore not such an unlikely doping substance at all. And certainly not if you consider another recently published animal study as well. According to that study, interleukin-6 plays a key role in the increase of muscle fibres through training. []

J Endocrinol. 2008 Aug;198(2):367-74.