Interleukin-6 inhibition of hERG underlies risk for acquired long QT in cardiac and systemic inflammation
Increased proinflammatory interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels are associated with acquired long QTsyndrome (LQTS) in patients with systemic inflammation, leading to higher risks for lifethreatening polymorphic ventricular tachycardia such as Torsades de Pointes. However, the functional and molecular mechanisms of this association are not known. In most cases of acquired LQTS, the target ion channel is the human ether-á -go-go-related gene (hERG) encoding the rapid component of the delayed rectifier K
... layed rectifier K current, I Kr , which plays a critical role in cardiac repolarization. Here, we tested the hypothesis that IL-6 may cause QT prolongation by suppressing I Kr . Electrophysiological and biochemical assays were used to assess the impact of IL-6 on the functional expression of I Kr in HEK293 cells and adult guinea-pig ventricular myocytes (AGPVM). In HEK293 cells, IL-6 alone or in combination with the soluble IL-6 receptor (IL-6R), produced a significant depression of I Kr peak and tail current densities. Block of IL-6R or Janus kinase (JAK) reversed the inhibitory effects of IL-6 on I Kr . In AGPVM, IL-6 prolonged action potential duration (APD) which was further prolonged in the presence of IL-6R. Similar to heterologous cells, IL-6 reduced endogenous guinea pig ERG channel mRNA and protein expression. The data are first to demonstrate that IL-6 inhibition of I Kr and the resulting prolongation of APD is mediated via IL-6R and JAK pathway activation and forms the basis for the observed clinical QT interval prolongation. These novel findings may guide the development of targeted anti-arrhythmic therapeutic interventions in patients with LQTS and inflammatory disorders.