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Protein Can Trigger Anemia in Inflammatory Diseases

Interleukin-6 sets off chain reaction in IBD, rheumatoid arthritis, study says

THURSDAY, May 6, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Interleukin-6, an immune system protein, sets off a chain reaction that results in chronic anemia in many people with infections and major inflammatory diseases.

That's the conclusion of a University of California, Los Angeles study in the May 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

This finding may help scientists develop new ways to prevent anemia in people with inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis, the researchers say.

The chain reaction occurs when interleukin-6 stimulates an increase in the hormone Hepcidin, which then lowers the amount of iron in the bloodstream.

"We knew previously that the iron level in the blood drops during an infection or inflammatory state, but didn't know the molecular mechanism that sparks this response," principal investigator Dr. Tomas Ganz, a professor of medicine and pathology, said in a statement.

"For the first time, we now can show the complete biological sequence of events leading to anemia in specific inflammatory diseases and infections," Ganz said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about anemia.

SOURCE: UCLA, news release, May 3, 2004
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