This post is part of a series that dissects what kinds of inflammation people get, the diseases and risks associated with such inflammation, and how we could dial it down.

What is Interleukin-8?

Interleukin 8 (IL-8) is a ‘chemokine’ produced by various immune cells. Chemokines attract other immune cells to a specific area. IL-8 an important part of our immune response [1].

IL-8 attracts other cells that are the real muscle of the immune system: neutrophils (also attracts eosinophils and basophils). Neutrophils consume bacteria by engulfing them. IL-8 can release molecules like histamine to facilitate the attraction of neutrophils [1].

IL-8’s Role in Disease

IL-8 is also known to be a potent promoter of angiogenesis, which is the growth of blood vessels. This is what helps cancer grow. It also increases the proliferation and survival of cancer cells [1]. Indeed, increased IL-8 is associated with many cancers. Recently, IL-8 was shown to increase hormonal activity in prostate cancer cells (which helps them grow). IL-8 can also cause resistance to chemotherapy in cancer cells [2].

IL-8 contributes to forming plaques in our arteries [3]. TNF, IL-1b, and IL-8 enhance the binding of cholesterol (LDL) to blood vessels and increases the adhesion of immune cells in these vessels. Both of these events contribute to atherosclerosis [4].

Important Contributory Factors

Oxidative stress increases IL-8 and this also helps IL-8 recruit neutrophils [1].

IL-8 is released by fat cells and is elevated in obese people and correlated with fat mass [3].

IL-8 and the Brain

Higher IL-8 predicted smaller gray matter volumes in the hippocampus [5].

IL-8 also exerts neuroprotective properties [6]. IL-8 might be involved in the biological mechanisms mediating resilience to anxiety. In this way, it can reduce suicide among people with psychiatric conditions [6].

Diseases Associated With IL-8

  • Heart disease [7]
  • Cancer [2] – Prostate Cancer [2], Breast Cancer [8], Colorectal Cancer [9], Liver Cancer, Thyroid Cancer [10], Myeloma [11], among others.
  • Pain [12, 13]
  • CFS (post infection type) [14] and Fibromyalgia [15]
  • Depression [16], Bipolar (could be from lithium) [17], Schizophrenia [18] – Also, children had a higher risk for schizophrenia when pregnant mothers had elevated IL-8 [19]. High IL-8 reduced the likelihood of positive responses to antipsychotic medication [20].
  • Migraines [21]
  • Alzheimer’s [22]
  • IBS [23], Colitis [24], Crohn’s [25]
  • Thyroiditis [10]
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis [26, 27]
  • Multiple Sclerosis [28], Lyme [29], ALS [30]
  • Behcet’s [31]
  • Asthma and COPD [32], Allergic Rhinitis [33] (not the main cytokine)
  • Sleep apnea [34] – probably elevated because of hypoxia
  • Osteoporosis (post-menopausal) [35]
  • Psoriasis [36] and Eczema [37]
  • Gingivitis [1]
  • Vitiligo [38]

Top Ways to Inhibit IL-8

IL-8 production is caused by the transcription factor NF-κB, [1] and is induced by IL-1 [39] and TNF [40]. So anything that will inhibit these will also likely lessen IL-8.



IL-8 Increasers


No Effect

Want More Targeted Ways to Combat Inflammation?

If you’re interested in natural and more targeted ways of lowering your inflammation, we at SelfHacked recommend checking out this inflammation wellness report. It gives genetic-based diet, lifestyle and supplement tips that can help reduce inflammation levels. The recommendations are personalized based on your genes.

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