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Hematol J. 2004;5(6):505-12.

Upregulated production of IL-6, but not IL-10, by interferon-alpha induces SOCS3 expression and attenuates STAT1 phosphorylation in myeloma cells.

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  • 1Second Department of Internal Medicine, Mie University School of Medicine, Mie, Japan.


Interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) is used as a treatment for multiple myeloma, although its clinical effects remain controversial. Here, we investigated whether IFN-alpha altered the autocrine production of interleukin-6 (IL-6) or IL-10, both identified as key cytokines regulating myeloma cell growth/survival, and found that IL-6, but not IL-10, induced by IFN-alpha attenuated IFN-alpha-mediated signaling in myeloma cells via an upregulated SOCS3. Using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, expression of the IL-6 gene (IL-6) and IL-10 was detected in two and three of eight myeloma cell lines, respectively. When myeloma cells were cultured with IFN-alpha, an increase of IL-6 and IL-10 production was detected in IL-6-expressing and in IL-10-expressing cells, respectively. IFN-alpha inhibited the cell growth of these myeloma lines. Addition of an IL-6-neutralizing antibody prolonged the phosphorylation of STAT1 induced by IFN-alpha and significantly enhanced the cell growth suppression of IFN-alpha on IL-6-expressing cells. However, a similar blocking of IL-10 in the presence of IFN-alpha did not affect the growth/survival of IL-10-expressing cells. Interestingly, exogenous IL-6, but not IL-10, induced high levels of SOCS3 expression. Although upregulation of SOCS3 was also observed in the presence of IFN-alpha alone in IL-6-expressing cells, this expression was completely abrogated by the IL-6-neutralizing antibody. The L929 cell line transfected with SOCS3 showed the protection from the growth suppression of IFN-alpha. These results suggest that IL-6 induced by IFN-alpha plays an important role in the growth/survival of myeloma cells via an autocrine loop, and upregulated SOCS3 by IL-6 may be at least partially responsible for the IL-6-mediated inhibition of IFN-alpha signaling in myeloma cells.

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