Gene Summary

Gene:IL6R; interleukin 6 receptor
Aliases: IL6Q, gp80, CD126, IL6RA, IL6RQ, IL-6RA, IL-6R-1
Summary:This gene encodes a subunit of the interleukin 6 (IL6) receptor complex. Interleukin 6 is a potent pleiotropic cytokine that regulates cell growth and differentiation and plays an important role in the immune response. The IL6 receptor is a protein complex consisting of this protein and interleukin 6 signal transducer (IL6ST/GP130/IL6-beta), a receptor subunit also shared by many other cytokines. Dysregulated production of IL6 and this receptor are implicated in the pathogenesis of many diseases, such as multiple myeloma, autoimmune diseases and prostate cancer. Alternatively spliced transcript variants encoding distinct isoforms have been reported. A pseudogene of this gene is found on chromosome 9.[provided by RefSeq, May 2011]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:interleukin-6 receptor subunit alpha
Source:NCBIAccessed: 06 August, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 06 August 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

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Tag cloud generated 06 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (4)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: IL6R (cancer-related)

Betts BC, Sagatys EM, Veerapathran A, et al.
CD4+ T cell STAT3 phosphorylation precedes acute GVHD, and subsequent Th17 tissue invasion correlates with GVHD severity and therapeutic response.
J Leukoc Biol. 2015; 97(4):807-19 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2016 Related Publications
Th17 cells contribute to severe GVHD in murine bone marrow transplantation. Targeted deletion of the RORγt transcription factor or blockade of the JAK2-STAT3 axis suppresses IL-17 production and alloreactivity by Th17 cells. Here, we show that pSTAT3 Y705 is increased significantly in CD4(+) T cells among human recipients of allogeneic HCT before the onset of Grade II-IV acute GVHD. Examination of target-organ tissues at the time of GVHD diagnosis indicates that the amount of RORγt + Th17 cells is significantly higher in severe GVHD. Greater accumulation of tissue-resident Th17 cells also correlates with the use of MTX- compared with Rapa-based GVHD prophylaxis, as well as a poor therapeutic response to glucocorticoids. RORγt is optimally suppressed by concurrent neutralization of TORC1 with Rapa and inhibition of STAT3 activation with S3I-201, supporting that mTOR- and STAT3-dependent pathways converge upon RORγt gene expression. Rapa-resistant T cell proliferation can be totally inhibited by STAT3 blockade during initial allosensitization. We conclude that STAT3 signaling and resultant Th17 tissue accumulation are closely associated with acute GVHD onset, severity, and treatment outcome. Future studies are needed to validate the association of STAT3 activity in acute GVHD. Novel GVHD prevention strategies that incorporate dual STAT3 and mTOR inhibition merit investigation.

Liu X, Liu K, Qin J, et al.
C/EBPβ promotes angiogenesis through secretion of IL-6, which is inhibited by genistein, in EGFRvIII-positive glioblastoma.
Int J Cancer. 2015; 136(11):2524-34 [PubMed] Related Publications
To study the mechanisms underlying the IL-6-promoted angiogenic microenvironment in EGFRvIII-positive glioblastoma, VEGF expression in EGFRvIII-positive/negative tumors was determined by optical molecular imaging. Next, the HUVEC tube formation assay, Western blot, qPCR, RNA silencing, chromatin immunoprecipitation, luciferase reporter and ELISA assays were performed to examine the role of IL-6 and C/EBPβ in the formation of the angiogenic microenvironment in EGFRvIII-positive tumors. Finally, in vitro and in vivo genistein treatment experiments were conducted to challenge the interaction between the IL-6 promoter and C/EBPβ. Optical imaging revealed greater VEGF expression in EGFRvIII-positive tumor-bearing mice, suggesting an angiogenic microenvironment. In vitro experiments demonstrated that C/EBPβ-mediated regulation of IL-6 was indispensable for maintenance of this angiogenic microenvironment. In contrast, genistein-mediated upregulation of CHOP impeded C/EBPβ interaction with the IL-6 promoter, thus disturbing the angiogenic microenvironment. This more malignant microenvironment in EGFRvIII glioblastoma is generated, at least in part, by greater VEGF, IL-6 and C/EBPβ expression. Interaction of C/EBPβ with the IL-6 promoter maintains this angiogenic microenvironment, while disturbance of this dynamically balanced interaction inhibits EGFRvIII tumor proliferation by reducing both VEGF and IL-6 expression.

Yu H, Lee H, Herrmann A, et al.
Revisiting STAT3 signalling in cancer: new and unexpected biological functions.
Nat Rev Cancer. 2014; 14(11):736-46 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Janus kinases (JAKs) and signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) proteins, particularly STAT3, are among the most promising new targets for cancer therapy. In addition to interleukin-6 (IL-6) and its family members, multiple pathways, including G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and microRNAs were recently identified to regulate JAK-STAT signalling in cancer. Well known for its role in tumour cell proliferation, survival, invasion and immunosuppression, JAK-STAT3 signalling also promotes cancer through inflammation, obesity, stem cells and the pre-metastatic niche. In addition to its established role as a transcription factor in cancer, STAT3 regulates mitochondrion functions, as well as gene expression through epigenetic mechanisms. Newly identified regulators and functions of JAK-STAT3 in tumours are important targets for potential therapeutic strategies in the treatment of cancer.

Markkula A, Simonsson M, Ingvar C, et al.
IL6 genotype, tumour ER-status, and treatment predicted disease-free survival in a prospective breast cancer cohort.
BMC Cancer. 2014; 14:759 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: In breast cancer, high levels of the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) have been associated with disease-free survival and treatment resistance. Increased serum levels of IL-6 have been correlated with increased levels of NF-κβ and aromatase expression in adipose tissue. Several IL6 single nucleotide polymorphisms have been associated with breast cancer prognosis, but the impact may differ depending on tumour oestrogen receptor (ER) status. This translational study investigated the association between IL6 genotypes, ER-status, and treatment on the risk of early events among breast cancer patients.
METHODS: The study included 634 25- to 99-year-old primary breast cancer patients in Sweden from 2002-2008. Genotyped IL6 single nucleotide polymorphisms rs1800797, rs1800796, rs1800795, and rs2069849 were analysed separately and as diplotypes. Disease-free survival was assessed for 567 patients. Clinical data, patient-, and tumour-characteristics were obtained from questionnaires, patient charts, population registries, and pathology reports.
RESULTS: The median follow-up time was 5.1 years. IL6 diplotype was not associated with early events for all 567 patients, but AGCC/AGCC diplotype-carriers with ER-negative tumours had an increased risk, (adjusted Hazard Ratio (HR) = 5.91, 95% CI: 1.28-27.42). Any C-carriers (rs1800795) with ER-negative tumours had a higher risk of early events than GG-carriers with ER-negative tumours, (adjusted HR = 3.76, 95% CI: 1.05-13.43), particularly after radiotherapy (adjusted HR = 7.17, 95% CI: 1.16-32.28). Irrespective of ER-status, chemotherapy-treated Any C-carriers had a higher risk of early events than GG-carriers (adjusted HR = 3.42, 95% CI: 1.01-11.54).
CONCLUSIONS: The main finding of the present study was that IL6 genotype was strongly associated with early events among patients with ER-negative tumours, particularly among radiotherapy-treated patients, and among chemotherapy-treated patients irrespective of ER-status. The high risk for early events observed in these subgroups of patients suggests that combined information on IL6 genotype, tumour ER-status, and breast cancer treatment may represent a tool for identifying patients who require more personalised treatment.

Saied A, Licata L, Burga RA, et al.
Neutrophil:lymphocyte ratios and serum cytokine changes after hepatic artery chimeric antigen receptor-modified T-cell infusions for liver metastases.
Cancer Gene Ther. 2014; 21(11):457-62 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2016 Related Publications
Our phase I Hepatic Immunotherapy for Metastases (HITM) trial tested the safety of chimeric antigen receptor-modified T-cell (CAR-T) hepatic artery infusions (HAI) for unresectable carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)+ liver metastases (LM). High neutrophil:lymphocyte ratios (NLR) predict poor outcome in cancer patients and we hypothesized that NLR changes would correlate with early responses to CAR-T HAI. Six patients completed the protocol. Three patients received CAR-T HAI in dose escalation (1 × 10(8), 1 × 10(9) and 1 × 10(10) cells) and the remainder received three doses (1 × 10(10) cells) with interleukin (IL)2 support. Serum cytokines and NLR were measured at multiple time points. The mean NLR for all patients was 13.9 (range 4.8-38.1). NLR increased in four patients following treatment with a mean fold change of 1.9. Serum IL6 levels and NLR fold changes demonstrated a trend towards a positive correlation (r=0.77, P=0.10). Patients with poor CEA responses were significantly more likely to have higher NLR level increases (P=0.048). Increased NLR levels were associated with poor responses following CAR-T HAI. NLR variations and associated cytokine changes may be useful surrogates of response to CAR-T HAI.

Schillace RV, Skinner AM, Pommier RF, et al.
Estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, interleukin-6 and interleukin-8 are variable in breast cancer and benign stem/progenitor cell populations.
BMC Cancer. 2014; 14:733 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Estrogen receptor positive breast cancers have high recurrence rates despite tamoxifen therapy. Breast cancer stem/progenitor cells (BCSCs) initiate tumors, but expression of estrogen (ER) or progesterone receptors (PR) and response to tamoxifen is unknown. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-8 (IL-8) may influence tumor response to therapy but expression in BCSCs is also unknown.
METHODS: BCSCs were isolated from breast cancer and benign surgical specimens based on CD49f/CD24 markers. CD44 was measured. Gene and protein expression of ER alpha, ER beta, PR, IL-6 and IL-8 were measured by proximity ligation assay and qRT-PCR.
RESULTS: Gene expression was highly variable between patients. On average, BCSCs expressed 10-106 fold less ERα mRNA and 10-103 fold more ERβ than tumors or benign stem/progenitor cells (SC). BCSC lin-CD49f-CD24-cells were the exception and expressed higher ERα mRNA. PR mRNA in BCSCs averaged 10-104 fold less than in tumors or benign tissue, but was similar to benign SCs. ERα and PR protein detection in BCSCs was lower than ER positive and similar to ER negative tumors. IL-8 mRNA was 10-104 higher than tumor and 102 fold higher than benign tissue. IL-6 mRNA levels were equivalent to benign and only higher than tumor in lin-CD49f-CD24-cells. IL-6 and IL-8 proteins showed overlapping levels of expressions among various tissues and cell populations.
CONCLUSIONS: BCSCs and SCs demonstrate patient-specific variability of gene/protein expression. BCSC gene/protein expression may vary from that of other tumor cells, suggesting a mechanism by which hormone refractory disease may occur.

Wang J, Yin D, Xie C, et al.
The iron chelator Dp44mT inhibits hepatocellular carcinoma metastasis via N-Myc downstream-regulated gene 2 (NDRG2)/gp130/STAT3 pathway.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(18):8478-91 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2016 Related Publications
Here we showed that hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell lines with high metastatic potential had low levels of NDRG2. The iron chelator Dp44mT up-regulated NDRG2, suppressed epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and inhibited tumor metastasis in HCC having high metastatic potential. Also Dp44mT attenuated the TGF-β1-induced EMT in HCC having low metastatic potential. In agreement, silencing endogenous NDRG2 with shNDRG2 in HCC cells attenuated the effect of Dp44mT. We showed that the NDRG2/gp130/STAT3 pathway can mediate Dp44mT effects. In agreement, we found that a combination of NDRG2 expression and p-STAT3 levels is a strong predictor of prognosis in HCC patients. We suggest that up-regulation of NDRG2 by Dp44mT is a promising therapeutic approach in HCC.

Miller GE, Murphy ML, Cashman R, et al.
Greater inflammatory activity and blunted glucocorticoid signaling in monocytes of chronically stressed caregivers.
Brain Behav Immun. 2014; 41:191-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Chronic stress is associated with morbidity and mortality from numerous conditions, many of whose pathogenesis involves persistent inflammation. Here, we examine how chronic stress influences signaling pathways that regulate inflammation in monocytes. The sample consisted of 33 adults caring for a family member with glioblastoma and 47 controls whose lives were free of major stressors. The subjects were assessed four times over eight months. Relative to controls, caregivers' monocytes showed increased expression of genes bearing response elements for nuclear-factor kappa B, a key pro-inflammatory transcription factor. Simultaneously, caregivers showed reduced expression of genes with response elements for the glucocorticoid receptor, a transcription factor that conveys cortisol's anti-inflammatory signals to monocytes. Transcript origin analyses revealed that CD14+/CD16- cells, a population of immature monocytes, were the predominate source of inflammatory gene expression among caregivers. We considered hormonal, molecular, and functional explanations for caregivers' decreased glucocorticoid-mediated transcription. Across twelve days, the groups displayed similar diurnal cortisol profiles, suggesting that differential adrenocortical activity was not involved. Moreover, the groups' monocytes expressed similar amounts of glucocorticoid receptor protein, suggesting that differential receptor availability was not involved. In ex vivo studies, subjects' monocytes were stimulated with lipopolysaccharide, and caregivers showed greater production of the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 relative to controls. However, no group differences in functional glucocorticoid sensitivity were apparent; hydrocortisone was equally effective at inhibiting cytokine production in caregivers and controls. These findings may help shed light on the mechanisms through which caregiving increases vulnerability to inflammation-related diseases.

Sun L, Sui L, Cong X, et al.
Low incidence of IL6ST (gp130) mutations in exon 6 in lung cancer of a Chinese cohort.
Cancer Genet. 2014 Jul-Aug; 207(7-8):291-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Lung cancer is an inflammation-associated epithelial carcinoma. A highly active interleukin 6 (IL-6)/glycoprotein 130 (gp130)/signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) pathway has been identified in a subset of primary lung cancer and closely correlated with tumor progression and poor prognosis. In a previous study, the frequent occurrence of somatic gain-of-function mutations was observed in the gp130-encoding IL6ST gene in exon 6 in 60% of inflammatory hepatocellular adenomas. Prompted by this finding, we assessed 110 Chinese lung carcinomas using PCR and direct DNA sequencing but found no somatic mutation of IL6ST in exon 6. However, one new potential germline missense mutation c.599C>G was identified in one adenocarcinoma that harbors wild-type epidermal growth factor receptor and KRAS. Protein modeling analysis showed that this mutation might not affect the gp130 protein conformation. Moreover, activated STAT3 was observed in most of the lung tumor tissues at a higher level than that in matched normal lung tissues. In conclusion, the c.599C>G mutation may be a new single nucleotide polymorphism of IL6ST, but mutations in exon 6 of this gene are not apparently common genetic variations occurring and leading to constitutive activation of STAT3 in lung cancer.

Fuchigami T, Kibe T, Koyama H, et al.
Regulation of IL-6 and IL-8 production by reciprocal cell-to-cell interactions between tumor cells and stromal fibroblasts through IL-1α in ameloblastoma.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014; 451(4):491-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Ameloblastoma is an odontogenic benign tumor that occurs in the jawbone, which invades bone and reoccurs locally. This tumor is treated by wide surgical excision and causes various problems, including changes in facial countenance and mastication disorders. Ameloblastomas have abundant tumor stroma, including fibroblasts and immune cells. Although cell-to-cell interactions are considered to be involved in the pathogenesis of many diseases, intercellular communications in ameloblastoma have not been fully investigated. In this study, we examined interactions between tumor cells and stromal fibroblasts via soluble factors in ameloblastoma. We used a human ameloblastoma cell line (AM-3 ameloblastoma cells), human fibroblasts (HFF-2 fibroblasts), and primary-cultured fibroblasts from human ameloblastoma tissues, and analyzed the effect of ameloblastoma-associated cell-to-cell communications on gene expression, cytokine secretion, cellular motility and proliferation. AM-3 ameloblastoma cells secreted higher levels of interleukin (IL)-1α than HFF-2 fibroblasts. Treatment with conditioned medium from AM-3 ameloblastoma cells upregulated gene expression and secretion of IL-6 and IL-8 of HFF-2 fibroblasts and primary-cultured fibroblast cells from ameloblastoma tissues. The AM3-stimulated production of IL-6 and IL-8 in fibroblasts was neutralized by pretreatment of AM-3 cells with anti-IL-1α antibody and IL-1 receptor antagonist. Reciprocally, cellular motility of AM-3 ameloblastoma cells was stimulated by HFF-2 fibroblasts in IL-6 and IL-8 dependent manner. In conclusion, ameloblastoma cells and stromal fibroblasts behave interactively via these cytokines to create a microenvironment that leads to the extension of ameloblastomas.

Bergh AC, Evaldsson C, Pedersen LB, et al.
Silenced B-cell receptor response to autoantigen in a poor-prognostic subset of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Haematologica. 2014; 99(11):1722-30 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2016 Related Publications
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia B cells express auto/xeno antigen-reactive antibodies that bind to self-epitopes and resemble natural IgM antibodies in their repertoire. One of the antigenic structures recognized is oxidation-induced malonedialdehyde that is present on low-density lipoprotein, apoptotic blebs, and on certain microbes. The poor-prognostic stereotyped subset #1 (Clan I IGHV genes-IGKV1(D)-39) express IgM B-cell receptors that bind oxidized low-density lipoprotein. In this study, we have used for the first time this authentic cognate antigen for analysis of downstream B-cell receptor-signal transduction events, since it is more faithful to B-cell physiology than anti-IgM. Multivalent oxidized low-density lipoprotein showed specific binding to subset #1 IgM/IgD B-cell receptors, whereas native low-density lipoprotein did not. The antigen binding induced prompt receptor clustering followed by internalization. However, the receptor-signal transduction was silenced, revealing no Ca(2+) mobilization or cell-cycle entry, while phosphorylated extracellular-regulated kinase 1/2 basal levels were high and could not be elevated further by oxidized low-density lipoprotein. Interestingly, B-cell receptor responsiveness was recovered after 48-h culture in the absence of antigen in half of the cases. Toll-like receptor 9-ligand was found to breach the B-cell receptor-signaling incompetence in 5 of 12 cases pointing to intra-subset heterogeneity. Altogether, this study supports B-cell receptor unresponsiveness to cognate self-antigen on its own in poor-prognostic subset #1 chronic lymphocytic leukemia, indicating that these cells proliferate by other mechanisms that may override B-cell receptor silencing brought about in a context of self-tolerance/anergy. These novel findings have implications for the understanding of chronic lymphocytic leukemia pathobiology and therapy.

Liu L, Chen X, Wang Y, et al.
Notch3 is important for TGF-β-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition in non-small cell lung cancer bone metastasis by regulating ZEB-1.
Cancer Gene Ther. 2014; 21(9):364-72 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Notch signaling pathway plays an important role in the bone metastasis microenvironment. Although recent evidence suggests that Notch signaling contributes to bone metastasis in breast and prostate cancer, its role and possible mechanisms in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) bone metastasis are not yet clear. Here, we show that Notch3 is overexpressed in NSCLC bone metastases. The inhibition of Notch3 by small interfering RNA transfection decreased the invasion ability of NSCLC cells and transforming growth factor (TGF)-induced interleukin (IL)-6 and parathyroid hormone-related protein (pTHrP) expression in vitro. We also observed that Notch3 induced a strong morphological transformation, promoting the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Western blotting and real-time polymerase chain reaction assays revealed that the forced overexpression of Notch3 induced the expression and activity of ZEB-1 and subsequent suppression of E-cadherin and upregulation of fibronectin, contributing to EMT and invasion. Western blotting and immunofluorescence assays showed that RNA interference-mediated ZEB-1 suppression blocked Notch-induced EMT-like transformation and subsequently reversed the observed effects on E-cadherin and downregulated fibronectin. A luciferase reporter system showed that Notch-induced ZEB-1 requires a functional binding site in the ZEB-1 promoter. In vitro invasion assays showed that the inhibition of ZEB-1 can decrease Notch3-promoted invasion and the expression of pTHrP and IL-6. Our results demonstrated that Notch upregulates ZEB-1, which contributes to TGF-β-induced EMT-like transformation and bone metastasis in NSCLC.

Lee HJ, Zhuang G, Cao Y, et al.
Drug resistance via feedback activation of Stat3 in oncogene-addicted cancer cells.
Cancer Cell. 2014; 26(2):207-21 [PubMed] Related Publications
Pathway-targeted cancer drugs can produce dramatic responses that are invariably limited by the emergence of drug-resistant cells. We found that many drug-treated "oncogene-addicted" cancer cells engage a positive feedback loop leading to Stat3 activation, consequently promoting cell survival and limiting overall drug response. This was observed in cancer cells driven by diverse activated kinases, including EGFR, HER2, ALK, and MET, as well as mutant KRAS. Specifically, MEK inhibition led to autocrine activation of Stat3 via the FGF receptor and JAK kinases, and pharmacological inhibition of MEK together with JAK and FGFR enhanced tumor regression. These findings suggest that inhibition of a Stat3 feedback loop may augment the response to a broad spectrum of drugs that target pathways of oncogene addiction.

Prayong P, Mairiang E, Pairojkul C, et al.
An interleukin-6 receptor polymorphism is associated with opisthorchiasis-linked cholangiocarcinoma risk in Thailand.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014; 15(13):5443-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
The cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a relatively rare cancer worldwide but it is highly prevalent in Thailand where the liver fluke, Opisthorchis viverrini is endemic. There are reports that interleukin 6 (IL-6) may play an important role in the pathogenesis of opisthorchiasis associated CCA. Functionally, IL-6 can act on target cells through its receptor, IL-6R, and IL-6R polymorphisms may affect the functional activity of IL-6 leading to susceptibility to cholangiocarcinogenesis. Therefore, we assessed the association of the 48892 A/C (Asp358Ala) polymorphism in exon 9 of the IL-6R gene in 79 CCA cases compared to 80 healthy controls using the PCR- RFLP technique. The results showed significant differences between CCA cases and controls in overall genotype (p=0.001) and allele frequencies (p=0.0002). Chi-square for trend test revealed a significant association between genotype and CCA susceptibility (p=0.0002). The odds ratios (ORs) for genotype were 0.283 (95% CI=0.131-0.605, AC vs. AA; p=0.0003) and 0.206 (95% CI=0.196-1.245, CC vs. AA; p=0.0416), the OR for alleles was 0.347 (95% CI=0.187-0.633, allele C vs. allele A; p=0.0002) and that for the carrier C variant was 0.272 (95% CI=0.130-0.564; p=0.0001). This study demonstrated a close association between an IL-6R polymorphism, specifically higher A allele, and cholangiocarcinoma.

Ataie-Kachoie P, Pourgholami MH, Richardson DR, Morris DL
Gene of the month: Interleukin 6 (IL-6).
J Clin Pathol. 2014; 67(11):932-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Interleukin 6 (IL-6) gene encodes the classic proinflammatory cytokine IL-6. It is also known as interferon-β2 (IFN-β2), B cell stimulatory factor-2 and hybridoma/plasmacytoma growth factor. IL-6 is a multifunctional cytokine with a central role in many physiological inflammatory and immunological processes. Due to its major role in initiation as well as resolving inflammation, deregulation of IL-6 is a mainstay of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Additionally, IL-6 has been shown to be implicated in pathogenesis of many human malignancies. Thus, a better understanding of IL-6 and its role in various pathological conditions could enable the development of strategies to use it as a therapeutic target. This short review focuses on the structure, regulation and biological activities of IL-6. In addition we discuss the role of IL-6 in diseases with inflammatory background and cancer and also the therapeutic applications of anti-IL-6 agents.

Kim SW, Choi HJ, Lee HJ, et al.
Role of the endothelin axis in astrocyte- and endothelial cell-mediated chemoprotection of cancer cells.
Neuro Oncol. 2014; 16(12):1585-98 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Recent evidence suggests that astrocytes protect cancer cells from chemotherapy by stimulating upregulation of anti-apoptotic genes in those cells. We investigated the possibility that activation of the endothelin axis orchestrates survival gene expression and chemoprotection in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells and H226 lung cancer cells.
METHODS: Cancer cells, murine astrocytes, and murine fibroblasts were grown in isolation, and expression of endothelin (ET) peptides and ET receptors (ETAR and ETBR) compared with expression on cancer cells and astrocytes (or cancer cells and fibroblasts) that were co-incubated for 48 hours. Type-specific endothelin receptor antagonists were used to evaluate the contribution of ETAR and ETBR to astrocyte-induced activation of the protein kinase B (AKT)/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signal transduction pathways, anti-apoptotic gene expression, and chemoprotection of cancer cells. We also investigated the chemoprotective potential of brain endothelial cells and microglial cells.
RESULTS: Gap junction signaling between MDA-MB-231 cancer cells and astrocytes stimulates upregulation of interleukin 6 (IL-6) and IL-8 expression in cancer cells, which increases ET-1 production from astrocytes and ET receptor expression on cancer cells. ET-1 signals for activation of AKT/MAPK and upregulation of survival proteins that protect cancer cells from taxol. Brain endothelial cell-mediated chemoprotection of cancer cells also involves endothelin signaling. Dual antagonism of ETAR and ETBR is required to abolish astrocyte- and endothelial cell-mediated chemoprotection.
CONCLUSIONS: Bidirectional signaling between astrocytes and cancer cells involves upregulation and activation of the endothelin axis, which protects cancer cells from cytotoxicity induced by chemotherapeutic drugs.

Zhang X, Blaskovich MA, Forinash KD, Sebti SM
Withacnistin inhibits recruitment of STAT3 and STAT5 to growth factor and cytokine receptors and induces regression of breast tumours.
Br J Cancer. 2014; 111(5):894-902 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 26/08/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The binding of STAT3 and STAT5 to growth factor and cytokine receptors such as EGFR and IL-6 receptor gp130 is critical to their activation and ability to contribute to malignant transformation. Therefore, interfering with these biochemical processes could lead to the discovery of novel anticancer agents.
METHODS: Co-immunoprecipitation, western blotting, microscopy, DNA binding, invasion, and soft agar assays as well as a mouse model were used to investigate the mechanism by which the natural product Withacnistin (Wit) inhibits STAT 3/5 tyrosine phosphoryaltion and activation.
RESULTS: Wit blocks EGF- and IL-6-stimulated binding of STAT3 and STAT5 to EGFR and gp130. Wit inhibits EGF-, PDGF-, IL-6-, IFNβ-, and GM-CSF-stimulation of tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT3 and STAT5 but not of EGFR or PDGFR. The inhibition of P-STAT3 and P-STAT5 occurred rapidly, within minutes of Wit treatment and growth factor stimulation. Wit also inhibits STAT3 nuclear translocation, DNA binding, promoter transcriptional activation, and it suppresses the expression levels of STAT3 target genes such as Bcl-xL and Mcl-1. Finally, Wit induces apoptosis, inhibits anchorage-dependent and -independent growth and invasion, and causes breast tumour regression in an ErbB2-driven transgenic mouse model.
CONCLUSIONS: These data warrant further development of Wit as a novel anticancer drug for targeting tumours that harbour hyperactivated STAT3 and STAT5.

Chu CM, Yao CT, Chang YT, et al.
Gene expression profiling of colorectal tumors and normal mucosa by microarrays meta-analysis using prediction analysis of microarray, artificial neural network, classification, and regression trees.
Dis Markers. 2014; 2014:634123 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 26/08/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Microarray technology shows great potential but previous studies were limited by small number of samples in the colorectal cancer (CRC) research. The aims of this study are to investigate gene expression profile of CRCs by pooling cDNA microarrays using PAM, ANN, and decision trees (CART and C5.0).
METHODS: Pooled 16 datasets contained 88 normal mucosal tissues and 1186 CRCs. PAM was performed to identify significant expressed genes in CRCs and models of PAM, ANN, CART, and C5.0 were constructed for screening candidate genes via ranking gene order of significances.
RESULTS: The first screening identified 55 genes. The test accuracy of each model was over 0.97 averagely. Less than eight genes achieve excellent classification accuracy. Combining the results of four models, we found the top eight differential genes in CRCs; suppressor genes, CA7, SPIB, GUCA2B, AQP8, IL6R and CWH43; oncogenes, SPP1 and TCN1. Genes of higher significances showed lower variation in rank ordering by different methods.
CONCLUSION: We adopted a two-tier genetic screen, which not only reduced the number of candidate genes but also yielded good accuracy (nearly 100%). This method can be applied to future studies. Among the top eight genes, CA7, TCN1, and CWH43 have not been reported to be related to CRC.

Zhang D, Cui Y, Niu L, et al.
Regulation of SOD2 and β-arrestin1 by interleukin-6 contributes to the increase of IGF-1R expression in docetaxel resistant prostate cancer cells.
Eur J Cell Biol. 2014; 93(7):289-98 [PubMed] Related Publications
Although several mechanisms behind resistance to docetaxel in castration-refractory prostate cancer (CRPC) have been investigated, molecular determinants of evolved resistance are still not entirely understood. Proteomics-based analysis in this study revealed that SOD2, associated with downregulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), was significantly up-regulated in docetaxel-resistant (PC3/Doc) cells if compared to sensitive cells, and the expression of redox-regulated genes such as IGF-1R, CXCR4, and BCL2 was increased as well. Forced expression of SOD2 in sensitive cells led to the increase of IGF-1R and association with drug resistance, whereas silencing of SOD2 resulted in the decrease of IGF-1R at the protein level in resistant cells. Further study revealed that SOD2 acted as a negative regulator of β-arrestin1 that is an important adaptor responsible for degradation of IGF-1R via the changes in ROS, as evidenced by observations that an antioxidant agent substantially attenuated β-arrestin1 expression in vitro and in vivo. Finally, we found that blocking of IL6 that was up-regulated in resistant cells resulted in attenuation of SOD2 and STAT3, and simultaneously in increased expression of β-arrestin1. The modulation consequently led to the decreased IGF-1R at both protein and transcription levels. Together, our data provide a novel explanation that high level of IL6 stimulated SOD2 expression that, at least partially, contributed to the low level of ROS that would likely result in a sustained increase in the expression of IGF-1R through abolishment of β-arrestin1 in docetaxel resistant cells.

Ruzzo A, Catalano V, Canestrari E, et al.
Genetic modulation of the interleukin 6 (IL-6) system in patients with advanced gastric cancer: a background for an alternative target therapy.
BMC Cancer. 2014; 14:357 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 26/08/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: IL-6 triggers oncogenic/angiogenic signals and the cytokine-dependent pro-cachexia cascade. The prognostic role of the functional IL-6 (promoter) rs1800795 and the IL-6R (receptor) rs8192284 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) was studied in patients with advanced gastric cancer treated with palliative chemotherapy.
METHODS: One-hundred-sixty-one patients were genotyped for rs1800795 and rs8192284 SNPs using polymerase chain reaction based restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) analysis assay. These results were studied for association with overall survival (OS).
RESULTS: In 161 assessable patients, frequencies of rs1800795 G/G, G/C and C/C genotypes were 46%, 42% and 12%, respectively. Frequencies of rs8192284 A/A, A/C and C/C genotypes were 36%, 45% and 19%, respectively. Carriers of the rs1800795 G/G and rs8192284 C/C genotypes showed the worst OS. In the multivariate model, rs1800795 G/G (1.69 hazard ratio; 95% confidence interval 1.18-2.42), and rs8192284 C/C (1.78 hazard ratio; 95% confidence interval 1.12-2.83) confirmed an adverse prognostic impact.
CONCLUSIONS: In this population, genetic variants that up-regulate the IL-6 system showed impact on OS. This findings sustain the hypothesis that anti-IL-6 compounds deserve clinical studies as novel therapeutics in the palliative treatment of cancer patients.

Levidou G, Sachanas S, Pangalis GA, et al.
Immunohistochemical analysis of IL-6, IL-8/CXCR2 axis,  Tyr p-STAT-3, and SOCS-3 in lymph nodes from patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia: correlation between microvascular characteristics and prognostic significance.
Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014:251479 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 26/08/2015 Related Publications
A number of studies have looked into the pathophysiological role of angiogenesis in CLL, but the results have often been inconsistent. We aimed to gain direct insight into the angiogenic process in lymph nodes involved by CLL, focusing on proangiogenic cytokines and microvessel morphometry. The tissue levels of VEGF, Th-2 cytokines IL-6 and IL-8, IL-8 receptor CXCR2, and tyrosine p-STAT-3/SOCS-3 axis modulating cytokine expression were evaluated immunohistochemically in 62 CLL/SLL cases. Microvascular characteristics were evaluated by image analysis. Results were analyzed with regard to clinicopathological characteristics. Proliferation centers (PCs) were less well vascularised compared to non-PC areas. IL-8 and CXCR2 expression was distinctly uncommon as opposed to IL-6, VEGF and SOCS-3, which were detected in the vast majority of cases. The latter two molecule expressions were more pronounced in the PCs in ∼ 40% of the cases. p-STAT-3 immunoreactivity was recorded in 66.67% of the cases with a predilection for PCs. Microvessel morphometry was unrelated to proangiogenic cytokines, p-STAT-3, SOCS-3, or survival. Microvascular caliber and VEGF expression were higher in Binet stage A, whereas IL-6 expression was higher in stage C. VEGF and p-STAT-3 exerted a favorable effect on progression, which remained significant in multivariate analysis, thereby constituting potential outcome predictors in CLL patients.

Miao JW, Liu LJ, Huang J
Interleukin-6-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition through signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 in human cervical carcinoma.
Int J Oncol. 2014; 45(1):165-76 [PubMed] Related Publications
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an important process in the invasion and metastasis of human cervical carcinoma. The pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) has been shown as an EMT inducer in multiple carcinomas. However, whether the EMT program can be induced by IL-6 and the mechanisms underlying the IL-6-induced EMT in human cervical carcinoma remain to be determined. In this study, we show that IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) were highly expressed in human cervical squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) tissues, and the expression of EMT markers was reversed in well-differentiated and poorly-differentiated human CSCC. Additional experiments showed that IL-6 exposure in cervical carcinoma cell lines induced IL-6R and Stat3 expression, markedly promoted cell growth, and altered cell morphology. The treatment of cervical carcinoma cell lines with IL-6 resulted in downregulation of E-Cadherin and upregulation of Vimentin. Importantly, knockdown of Stat3 significantly reversed the IL-6-induced EMT program, suggesting that Stat3 is necessary for IL-6-induced EMT in the progression of human cervical carcinoma. Moreover, Slug, a member of the Snail family of EMT regulators, was observed to be associated with the expression of Stat3. We concluded that IL-6 plays an important role through Stat3 in the EMT induction and can be a potential therapeutic target and biomarker for human cervical carcinoma.

Hong B, Li H, Zhang M, et al.
p38 MAPK inhibits breast cancer metastasis through regulation of stromal expansion.
Int J Cancer. 2015; 136(1):34-43 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/01/2016 Related Publications
p38 MAPK signaling controls cell growth, proliferation and the cell cycle under stress conditions. However, the function of p38 activation in tumor metastasis is still not well understood. We report that p38 activation in breast cancer cells inhibits tumor metastasis but does not substantially modulate primary tumor growth. Stable p38 knockdown in breast cancer cells suppressed NF-κB p65 activation, inhibiting miR-365 expression and resulting in increased IL-6 secretion. The inhibitory effect of p38 signaling on metastasis was mediated by suppression of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) migration to the primary tumor and sites of metastasis, where MSCs can differentiate into cancer-associated fibroblasts to promote tumor metastasis. The migration of MSCs to these sites relies on CXCR4-SDF1 signaling in the tumor microenvironment. Analysis of human primary and metastatic breast cancer tumors showed that p38 activation was inversely associated with IL-6 and vimentin expression. This study suggests that combination analysis of p38 MAPK and IL-6 signaling in patients with breast cancer may improve prognosis and treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

Xu W, Zhang Z, Yang Y, et al.
Ad5/48 hexon oncolytic virus expressing sTGFβRIIFc produces reduced hepatic and systemic toxicities and inhibits prostate cancer bone metastases.
Mol Ther. 2014; 22(8):1504-17 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/01/2016 Related Publications
We are interested in developing oncolytic adenoviruses for the treatment of prostate cancer (PCa) bone metastases. A key limitation of Adenovirus 5 (Ad5) is that upon systemic administration, it produces major liver and systemic toxicities. To address this issue, a chimaeric Ad5/48 adenovirus mHAd.sTβRFc was created. Seven hypervariable regions of Ad5 hexon present in Ad5-based Ad.sTβRFc expressing soluble transforming growth factor beta receptor II-Fc fusion protein (sTGβRIIFc), were replaced by those of Ad48. mHAd.sTβRFc, like Ad.sTβRFc, was replication competent in the human PCa cells, and produced high levels of sTGβRIIFc expression. Compared to Ad.sTβRFc, the systemic delivery of mHAd.sTβRFc in nude mice resulted in much reduced systemic toxicity, and reduced liver sequestration. Ad.sTβRFc produced significant liver necrosis, and increases in alanine transaminase, aspartate transaminase, lactate dehydrogenase, tumor necrosis factor-α, and interleukin-6 levels, while mHAd.sTβRFc produced much reduced responses of these markers. Intravenous delivery of Ad.sTβRFc or mHAd.sTβRFc (5 × 10(10) viral particles/mouse) in nude mice bearing PC-3-luc PCa bone metastases produced inhibition of bone metastases. Moreover, a larger dose of the mHAd.sTβRFc (4 × 10(11) viral particles /mouse) was also effective in inhibiting bone metastases. Thus, mHAd.sTβRFc could be developed for the treatment of PCa bone metastases.

Charbonneau B, Moysich KB, Kalli KR, et al.
Large-scale evaluation of common variation in regulatory T cell-related genes and ovarian cancer outcome.
Cancer Immunol Res. 2014; 2(4):332-40 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/01/2016 Related Publications
The presence of regulatory T cells (Treg) in solid tumors is known to play a role in patient survival in ovarian cancer and other malignancies. We assessed inherited genetic variations via 749 tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in 25 Treg-associated genes (CD28, CTLA4, FOXP3, IDO1, IL10, IL10RA, IL15, 1L17RA, IL23A, IL23R, IL2RA, IL6, IL6R, IL8, LGALS1, LGALS9, MAP3K8, STAT5A, STAT5B, TGFB1, TGFB2, TGFB3, TGFBR1, TGRBR2, and TGFBR3) in relation to ovarian cancer survival. We analyzed genotype and overall survival in 10,084 women with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer, including 5,248 high-grade serous, 1,452 endometrioid, 795 clear cell, and 661 mucinous carcinoma cases of European descent across 28 studies from the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC). The strongest associations were found for endometrioid carcinoma and IL2RA SNPs rs11256497 [HR, 1.42; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.22-1.64; P = 5.7 × 10(-6)], rs791587 (HR, 1.36; 95% CI, 1.17-1.57; P = 6.2 × 10(-5)), rs2476491 (HR, = 1.40; 95% CI, 1.19-1.64; P = 5.6 × 10(-5)), and rs10795763 (HR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.17-1.57; P = 7.9 × 10(-5)), and for clear cell carcinoma and CTLA4 SNP rs231775 (HR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.54-0.82; P = 9.3 × 10(-5)) after adjustment for age, study site, population stratification, stage, grade, and oral contraceptive use. The rs231775 allele associated with improved survival in our study also results in an amino acid change in CTLA4 and previously has been reported to be associated with autoimmune conditions. Thus, we found evidence that SNPs in genes related to Tregs seem to play a role in ovarian cancer survival, particularly in patients with clear cell and endometrioid epithelial ovarian cancer.

Yu Y, Zheng S, Zhang S, et al.
Polymorphisms of inflammation-related genes and colorectal cancer risk: a population-based case-control study in China.
Int J Immunogenet. 2014; 41(4):289-97 [PubMed] Related Publications
The previous studies found that chronic inflammation related to an increased risk of colorectal cancer (CRC). This study aims to explore the associations of polymorphisms in inflammation-related genes (IL10, IL10RA, IL6R, TNFRSF1A, TNFRSF1B, LTA and IL4) and their interactions with the risk of colorectal cancer among Chinese population. A population-based case-control study including 299 cases and 296 controls was conducted from January 2001 to December 2009. Multivariate unconditional logistic regression was used to analyse the association of nine SNPs in inflammation-related genes with the risk of CRC, colon cancer and rectal cancer, respectively. Generalized multifactor dimensionality reduction (GMDR) was implemented to explore the gene-gene interactions among all SNPs on CRC. A decreased risk of colorectal cancer in subjects with rs1800872 AC genotype of IL10 (OR = 0.643, 95%CI = 0.453, 0.912) or AC/CC genotype (OR = 0.636, 95%CI = 0.457, 0.885) was observed, compared with those with AA genotype. Meanwhile, similar associations were observed between rs1800872 and rectal cancer. Additionally, in rs1061624 of TNFRSF1B gene, AG genotype (OR=0.566; 95% CI= 0.362, 0.885) and AG/GG genotype (OR=0.638; 95% CI=0.420, 0.971) were significantly associated with a decreased risk of rectal cancer, respectively. Our findings indicated that mutants in IL10 and TNFRSF1B genes may change the CRC risk. However, there is no interaction between inflammation-related genes on CRC risk.

Miller A, Brooks GD, McLeod L, et al.
Differential involvement of gp130 signalling pathways in modulating tobacco carcinogen-induced lung tumourigenesis.
Oncogene. 2015; 34(12):1510-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Interleukin (IL)-6 family cytokines signal exclusively via the gp130 coreceptor, and are implicated in smoking-associated lung cancer, the most lethal cancer worldwide. However, the role of gp130 signalling pathways in transducing the carcinogenic effects of tobacco-related compounds is ill-defined. Here, we report that lung tumourigenesis induced by the potent tobacco carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (Nicotine-derived Nitrosamine Ketone; NNK) is suppressed in gp130(F/F) knock-in mice characterized by the contrasting gp130-dependant hypoactivation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase mitogen-activated protein kinase (ERK MAPK) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt, and hyperactivation of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)3 signalling cascades. Specifically, in response to NNK, the absolute number and size of lung lesions in gp130(F/F) mice were significantly reduced compared with gp130(+/+) littermate controls, and associated with lower cellular proliferation without any alteration to the level of apoptosis in gp130(F/F) lung tumours. At the molecular level, reduced activation of ERK MAPK, but not Akt, was observed in lung tumours of gp130(F/F) mice, and corresponded with impaired expression of several tumour suppressor genes (for example, Trp53, Tsc2). Notably, STAT3 was not activated in the lungs of gp130(+/+) mice by NNK, and genetic normalization of STAT3 activation in gp130(F/F):Stat3(-/+) mice had no effect on NNK-induced tumourigenesis. The expression of tumour suppressor genes was reduced in tumours from current versus never-smoking lung cancer patients, and in vitro pharmacological inhibition of ERK MAPK signalling in human lung cancer cells abrogated NNK-induced downmodulation of tumour suppressor gene expression. Among IL-6 cytokine family members, IL-6 gene expression was specifically upregulated by NNK in vitro and in vivo, and inversely correlated with tumour suppressor gene expression. Collectively, our data reveal that a key molecular mechanism by which NNK promotes tumour cell proliferation during tobacco carcinogen-induced lung carcinogenesis is via upregulation of IL-6 and the preferential usage of gp130-dependant ERK MAPK signalling to downmodulate tumour suppressor gene expression.

Sun B, Kawahara M, Ehata S, Nagamune T
AAG8 promotes carcinogenesis by activating STAT3.
Cell Signal. 2014; 26(9):1863-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Dysregulation of signalling pathways by changes of gene expression contributes to hallmarks of cancer. The ubiquitously expressed chaperone protein AAG8 (aging-associated gene 8 protein, encoded by the SIGMAR1 gene) is often found to be overexpressed in various cancers. AAG8 is involved in ER (endoplasmic reticulum)-associated degradation and has been intensively elaborated in neuroscience. However, its rationale in carcinogenesis has rarely been noticed. In this study, we explored the intrinsic oncogenetic roles of AAG8 in cancer cells and found that AAG8 promoted carcinogenesis both in vitro and in vivo. We further characterized AAG8, for the first time to our knowledge, as a STAT3 activator and elucidated that it alternatively activated STAT3 in addition to IL6/JAK pathway. Based on these findings and a drug screening study, we demonstrated that combined inhibition of AAG8 and IL6/JAK signalling synergistically limits cancer cell growth. Taken together, our findings shed light on the fundamental evidences for identification of AAG8 as an oncoprotein and potential target for cancer prevention, as well as highlight the importance of ER proteins in contributing to JAK/STAT signaling and carcinogenesis.

Saad S, Dunn LB, Koetters T, et al.
Cytokine gene variations associated with subsyndromal depressive symptoms in patients with breast cancer.
Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2014; 18(4):397-404 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/01/2016 Related Publications
PURPOSE: This study explored the relationships between variations in cytokines genes and depressive symptoms in a sample of patients who were assessed prior to and for six months following breast cancer surgery. Phenotypic differences between Resilient (n = 155) and Subsyndromal (n = 180) depressive symptom classes, as well as variations in cytokine genes were evaluated.
METHOD: Patients were recruited prior to surgery and followed for six months. Growth mixture modeling was used to identify distinct latent classes based on Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D) Scale scores. Eighty-two single nucleotide polymorphisms and 35 haplotypes among 15 candidate cytokine genes were evaluated.
RESULTS: Patients in the Subsyndromal class were significantly younger, more likely to be married or partnered, and reported a significantly lower functional status. Variation in three cytokine genes (i.e., interferon gamma receptor 1 (IFNGR1 rs9376268), interleukin 6 (IL6 rs2069840), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFA rs1799964)), as well as age and functional status predicted membership in the Subsyndromal versus the Resilient class.
CONCLUSIONS: A variation in TNFA that was associated with Subsyndromal depressive symptoms in a sample of patients and their family caregivers was confirmed in this sample. Variations in cytokine genes may place these patients at higher risk for the development of Subsyndromal levels of depressive symptoms.

Zheng Y, Chow SO, Boernert K, et al.
Direct crosstalk between cancer and osteoblast lineage cells fuels metastatic growth in bone via auto-amplification of IL-6 and RANKL signaling pathways.
J Bone Miner Res. 2014; 29(9):1938-49 [PubMed] Related Publications
The bone microenvironment and its modification by cancer and host cell interactions is a key driver of skeletal metastatic growth. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) stimulates receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) expression in bone cells, and serum IL-6 levels are associated with poor clinical outcomes in cancer patients. We investigated the effects of RANKL on cancer cells and the role of tumor-derived IL-6 within the bone microenvironment. Using human breast cancer cell lines to induce tumors in the bone of immune-deficient mice, we first determined whether RANKL released by cells of the osteoblast lineage directly promotes IL-6 expression by cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. We then disrupted of IL-6 signaling in vivo either via knockdown of IL-6 in tumor cells or through treatment with specific anti-human or anti-mouse IL-6 receptor antibodies to investigate the tumor effect. Finally, we tested the effect of RANK knockdown in cancer cells on cancer growth. We demonstrate that osteoblast lineage-derived RANKL upregulates secretion of IL-6 by breast cancers in vivo and in vitro. IL-6, in turn, induces expression of RANK by cancer cells, which sensitizes the tumor to RANKL and significantly enhances cancer IL-6 release. Disruption in vivo of this auto-amplifying crosstalk by knockdown of IL-6 or RANK in cancer cells, or via treatment with anti-IL-6 receptor antibodies, significantly reduces tumor growth in bone but not in soft tissues. RANKL and IL-6 mediate direct paracrine-autocrine signaling between cells of the osteoblast lineage and cancer cells, significantly enhancing the growth of metastatic breast cancers within bone.

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