Augmented intrarenal ANG II stimulates IL-6, which contributes to renal injury. The expression of intrarenal angiotensinogen (AGT) is enhanced by increased intrarenal ANG II in human renin/human AGT double transgenic mice. ANG II also augments AGT expression in hepatocytes and cardiac myocytes. However, the mechanisms underlying AGT augmentation by ANG II and the contribution of IL-6 to this system are poorly understood. This study was performed in human renal proximal tubular epithelial cells (HRPTECs) to test the hypothesis that IL-6 contributes to the upregulation of AGT expression by ANG II. Human kidney-2 (HK-2) cells, immortalized HRPTECs, were incubated with 10(-7) M ANG II and/or 10 ng/ml IL-6 for up to 24 h. AGT mRNA and protein expressions were measured by real-time RT-PCR and ELISA, respectively. The activities of NF-kappaB and STAT3 were evaluated by Western blotting and EMSA. Stimulation with either ANG II or IL-6 did not significantly alter AGT mRNA or protein expression. In contrast, costimulation with ANG II and IL-6 significantly increased AGT mRNA and protein expressions (1.26 +/- 0.10 and 1.16 +/- 0.13 over control, respectively). Olmesartan, an ANG II type 1 receptor blocker, and an IL-6 receptor antibody individually inhibited this synergistic effect. NF-kappaB was also activated by costimulation with ANG II and IL-6. Phosphorylation and activity of STAT3 were increased by stimulation with IL-6 alone and by costimulation. The present study indicates that IL-6 plays an important role in ANG II-mediated augmentation of AGT expression in human renal proximal tubular cells.