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Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a cytokine, a type of molecule released by cells to signal to other nearby cells or tissues, with an important role in the immune system and is encoded for by the IL6 gene 1. IL-6 was first described as an inflammatory cytokine, released by cells of the immune system during infection in order to attract other immune cells, to help combat infection. As such its expression is typically short lived 2.

However, more recently several other important roles for IL-6 have been described. Under conditions of psychological stress IL-6 release has been shown to increase, and be maintained for long periods of time. Whereas, short lived expression of IL-6 is beneficial when dealing with infection, extended IL-6 expression can actually promote viral infection, and increase the severity of symptoms. It is thought that aberrant IL-6 expression provides the link between chronic-stress, as associated with depression and anxiety and an impaired immune response 3.

In the above two examples IL-6 is playing a role in influencing the immune system. It has also been shown to play an important role in muscle tissue, where it is released in large amounts following exercise 4. It was initially thought that this was an immune response to the damage caused to muscle cells by strenuous exercise. However, it was later shown that IL-6 is instead promoting a beneficial effect stimulating the release of glucose from the liver and fat tissue, promoting the breakdown of fat 5.

There is one SNP in the IL6 gene associated with poor health outcomes, rs1800795 sometimes called C-237G or C-174G.

C-237G, C-174G

Science Grade
rsID Number Major Allele Minor Allele Minor Allele Frequency (%)
rs1800795 g c 14

Risk Description

The ‘C’ and ‘G’ alleles of C-174G are associated with alterations in IL-6 production, both of which are associated with different health risks.

The ‘G’ allele is associated with an increased production of IL-6 compared to the ‘C’ allele 6. This increase in IL6 expression is significantly associated with an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes 7, particularly in those who are overweight 8.

In comparison the ‘C’ allele is associated with several cardiovascular risks 9, 10. Although a protective effect against the development of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which is associated with IL-6, was observed 11.

It is not clear in either case exactly how changes in IL-6 production can influence disease risk.

Indirect Nutrients:*

Ingredient Active Ingredient Effect
Nattō Nattokinase

Nattokinase, the enzyme derived from the Japanese food nattō, has a very strong capacity to break down fibrin blood clots.

As such a beneficial effect on blood pressure 12 and general cardiovascular health has been described 13. Supplementation may therefore prove beneficial in those carrying the ‘C’ allele of C-174G, especially those carrying two copies.

Ubiquinol Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 (CQ10), a naturally occurring coenzyme with numerous health benefits, has been shown to have a positive effect in those with elevated blood pressure 14, however, no effect was seen in healthy controls 15.

Therefore, supplementation may be recommended to those carrying the ‘C’ allele of C-174G, especially to those who carry two copies.

Nutritional Contraindications:*

Ingredient Active Ingredient Effect

The impacts of a high sodium diet are well established 16.

Therefore, in those carrying the risk ‘C’ allele of C-174G which is associated with several cardiovascular risks, a reduction in sodium intake to recommended levels should be considered.

Lifestyle Considerations:

Behavior Description
Dietary alteration

The ‘G’ allele of C-174G is associated with an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Type-2 diabetes is sometimes referred to as lifestyle diabetes due to its association with common dietary imbalances. For example, consuming too many calories and dietary sugars is strongly associated with development of type-2 diabetes 17.
Therefore, those carrying the ‘G’ allele of C-174G, and especially those carrying two copies of the allele should consider dietary alteration.

Discuss this information with your doctor before taking any course of action.


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