Although interleukin-6 (IL-6) has various neuroprotective effects against cerebral ischemia, the topographic distribution and cellular source of IL-6 after cerebral ischemia remain unclear. In the current study, the localization of IL-6 protein was immunohistochemically examined in rats after 3.5, 12, 24, and 48 hours of reperfusion after 1.5 hours of middle cerebral artery occlusion. Middle cerebral artery occlusion was induced by the intraluminal suture method. The specificity of the anti-IL-6 antibody used in the current study was confirmed by Western blot analysis and an immunoabsorption text. To identify tile cellular source, lectin histochemical study and immunohistochemical study with microtubule-associated protein-2, ED1 and glial fibrillary acidic protein also were carried out. The sham group did not show any clear IL-6 immunoreactivity. After 3.5 hours of reperfusion, IL-6 immunoreactivity was first detected on tile reperfused side, and it was upregulated, especially in the periinfarct region, after 24 hours of reperfusion. Also, IL-6 was expressed after 3.5 hours of reperfusion in the contralateral cerebral cortex and bilateral hippocampi. Double staining showed that the cells containing IL-6 were neurons and round-type microglia, not astrocytes. The current findings suggest that IL-6 expression in ischemically threatened neurons and reactive microglia is closely associated with brain tissue neuroprotective mechanisms against cerebral ischemia.
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