Frailty is a geriatric syndrome characterized by age-related declines in function and reserve resulting in increased vulnerability to stressors. The most consistent laboratory finding in frail subjects is elevation of serum IL-6, but it is unclear whether IL-6 is a causal driver of frailty. Here, we characterize a new mouse model of inducible IL-6 expression (IL-6TET-ON/+ mice) following administration of doxycycline (Dox) in food. In this model, IL-6 induction was Dox dose-dependent. The Dox dose that increased IL-6 levels to those observed in frail old mice directly led to an increase in frailty index, decrease in grip strength, and disrupted muscle mitochondrial homeostasis. Littermate mice lacking the knock-in construct failed to exhibit frailty after Dox feeding. Both naturally old mice and young Dox-induced IL-6TET-ON/+ mice exhibited increased IL-6 levels in sera and spleen homogenates but not in other tissues. Moreover, Dox-induced IL-6TET-ON/+ mice exhibited selective elevation in IL-6 but not in other cytokines. Finally, bone marrow chimera and splenectomy experiments demonstrated that non-hematopoietic cells are the key source of IL-6 in our model. We conclude that elevated IL-6 serum levels directly drive age-related frailty, possibly via mitochondrial mechanisms.
- Transgenic models
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- veterinary (miscalleneous)
- Complementary and alternative medicine
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine