Blood 2012 Nov 11;120(18):3783-92. Epub 2012 Sep 11.
Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma, Division of Cancer Medicine, Center for Cancer Immunology Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is an aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma frequently involved in the lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen, and gastrointestinal tract. We examined the role of IL-6 in MCL. Human MCL cells expressed the membrane gp130 and soluble gp80, and some of them also secreted IL-6. Neutralizing autocrine IL-6 and/or blocking IL-6 receptors in IL-6(+)/gp80(+) MCL cells inhibited cell growth, enhanced the rate of spontaneous apoptosis, and increased sensitivity to chemotherapy drugs. For IL-6(-) or gp80(low) MCL cells, paracrine or exogenous IL-6 or gp80 protected the cells from stress-induced death. Knockdown of gp80 in gp80(high) MCL cells rendered the cells more sensitive to chemotherapy drugs, even in the presence of exogenous IL-6. In contrast, overexpression of gp80 in gp80(low)/IL-6(+) MCL cells protected the cells from chemotherapy drug-induced apoptosis in vitro and compromised the therapeutic effect of chemotherapy in vivo. IL-6 activated the Jak2/STAT3 and PI3K/Akt pathways in MCL, and the inhibition of these pathways completely or partially abrogated IL-6-mediated protection of MCL cells. Hence, our study identifies IL-6 as a key cytokine for MCL growth and survival and suggests that targeting the IL-6 pathway may be a novel way to improve the efficacy of chemotherapy in MCL patients.