Effects of IL-6 signaling pathway inhibition on weight and BMI: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Olivia Patsalos, Bethan Dalton, Hubertus Himmerich*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Inhibitors of the IL-6 signaling pathway, such as tocilizumab, are frequently administered for the treatment of immune diseases, e.g., rheumatoid arthritis and multicentric Castleman’s disease. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to ascertain the effects of IL-6 pathway inhibitors on weight and body mass index (BMI). Using PRISMA guidelines, we systematically reviewed relevant articles from three databases (PubMed, OVID, EMBASE). A random effects model was used to estimate standardized mean change (SMCC). Ten studies with a total of 1531 patients were included in the meta-analysis for weight and ten studies with a total of 1537 patients were included in the BMI meta-analysis. The most commonly administered IL-6 pathway inhibitor was tocilizumab. IL-6 pathway inhibitors were associated with increases in weight (SMCC = 0.09, p = 0.016, 95% CI [0.03, 0.14]) and BMI (SMCC = 0.10, p = 0.0001, 95% CI [0.05, 0.15]). These findings suggest that the IL-6 pathway is involved in weight regulation. Modulating IL-6 signaling may be a potential future therapeutic avenue used as an adjunct for the treatment of disorders associated with weight changes, such as cancer cachexia and anorexia nervosa.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6290
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • BMI
  • IL-6
  • Obesity
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Siltuximab
  • Spondyloarthritis
  • Tocilizumab
  • Weight


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