Sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 mediates elevated IL-6 signaling to promote chronic inflammation and multitissue damage in sickle cell disease

Shushan Zhao, Morayo G. Adebiyi, Yujin Zhang, Jacob P. Couturier, Xuegong Fan, Hongqi Zhang, Rodney E. Kellems, Dorothy E. Lewis, Yang Xia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) is a biolipid involved in chronic inflammation in several inflammatory disorders. Recent studies revealed hat elevatedS1Pcontributes to sickling insickle celldisease (SCD), adevastating hemolytic, genetic disorder associated with severe chronic inflammation and tissue damage. We evaluated the effect of elevated S1P in chronic inflammation and tissue damage in SCD and underlying mechanisms. First, we demonstrated that interfering with S1P receptor signaling by FTY720, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved drug, significantly reduced systemic, local inflammation and tissue damage without antisickling effects. These findings led us to discover that S1P receptor activation leads to substantial elevated local and systemic IL-6 levels in SCD mice. Genetic deletion of IL-6 in SCD mice significantly reduced local and systemic inflammation, tissue damage, and kidney dysfunction. At the cellular level, we determined that elevated IL-6 is a key cytokine functioning downstream of elevated S1P, which contributes to increased S1P receptor 1 (S1pr1) gene expression in the macrophages of several tissues in SCD mice. Mechanistically, we revealedthatS1P-S1PR1 signaling reciprocally up-regulated IL-6 gene expression in primary mouse macrophages in a JAK2-dependent manner. Altogether, we revealedthat elevatedS1P, coupledwithmacrophageS1PR1 reciprocally inducing IL-6 expression, is akey signaling network functioning as a malicious, positive, feed-forward loopto sustain inflammation and promote tissue damage in SCD. Our findings immediately highlight novel therapeutic possibilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2855-2865
Number of pages11
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • JAK2
  • Macrophage
  • S1PR1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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