Interleukin-6 stimulates tubular regeneration in rats with glycerol-induced acute renal failure. Background: Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is a pleiotropic cytokine released after endotoxemia, trauma and organ injury. IL-6 may act in cellular proliferation activating transduction signals and Ras/Map cascade or the HGF/c-met axis. We tested the effect of IL-6 in the regeneration of tubular epithelia after acute tubular necrosis (ATN) in rats. Methods: Rats with glycerol-induced acute renal failure (Gly-ARF) were treated with IL-6 200 µg/kg/day. Functional, histological and immunohistochemical tests were done 24 and 72 h after Gly-ARF to localise mitotic cells (BrdU). The renal expression of c-met (Western-Blot) and circulating levels of HGF (ELISA) were also determined. Results: Rats with Gly-ARF had reduced creatinine clearance that was not influenced by IL-6. The histological appearance of ATN was also unaffected by IL-6. The IL-6 treated rats showed a significant increase in tubular cell proliferation in cortex and medulla, as well as in the expression of c-met protein in the renal cortex, compared to untreated Gly-ARF rats. The plasma HGF concentration was equally elevated in treated and untreated Gly-ARF rats. Discussion: IL-6 stimulates tubular regeneration after Gly-ARF and increases the expression of c-met in the renal cortex. Gly-ARF rats have high circulating levels of HGF that is targeted to act in the injured kidneys by the IL-6 overexpressed renal c-met.