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Life Sci. 2006 Apr 18;78(21):2494-502. Epub 2005 Dec 5.

Interleukin-6 decreases senescence and increases telomerase activity in malignant human cholangiocytes.

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  • 1Scott & White Clinic, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, College of Medicine, Temple, Texas 76508, USA.



Cellular senescence results in irreversible growth arrest. In malignant cells, senescence is prevented by maintenance of chromosomal length by telomerase activity. Telomerase activity is increased in malignant, but not in normal cholangiocytes. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is an autocrine promoter of cholangiocarcinoma growth. Our aims were to assess the relationship between IL-6 activated p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways and senescence in malignant cholangiocytes.


Cell senescence and telomerase activity was assessed in Mz-ChA-1 malignant human cholangiocytes. The effect of inhibitors of p38 MAPK and telomerase activity on cell proliferation was assessed, and the interaction between these inhibitors was quantitated by median effects analysis.


Mz-ChA-1 cells rapidly underwent senescence during repeated passaging. IL-6 increased telomerase activity and decreased cellular senescence during repeated passaging. However, basal telomerase activity was increased by inhibition of p38 MAPK. Inhibition of telomerase activity decreased IL-6 induced proliferation and had a synergistic effect with p38 MAPK inhibitors. Thus, IL-6 increases telomerase activity independent of p38 MAPK signaling and maintenance of telomerase activity promotes cholangiocarcinoma growth.


Enhanced telomerase activity in response to IL-6 stimulation can prevent cellular senescence and thereby contribute to cholangiocarcinoma growth. Inhibition of telomerase activity may therefore be therapeutically useful in biliary tract malignancies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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