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J Immunol. 2010 Feb 1;184(3):1543-51. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0801217. Epub 2009 Dec 30.

Essential roles of IL-6 trans-signaling in colonic epithelial cells, induced by the IL-6/soluble-IL-6 receptor derived from lamina propria macrophages, on the development of colitis-associated premalignant cancer in a murine model.

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  • 1Yakult Central Institute for Microbiological Research, Tokyo, Japan.


Activation of the IL-6/Stat3 via IL-6 trans-signaling plays an important role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. Colitis-associated cancer (CAC) is a large bowel cancer and occurs with long-standing inflammatory bowel disease. The role of the IL-6/Stat3 in the development of CAC has not been fully understood. We investigate whether IL-6 trans-signaling contributes to the development of CAC using a mouse colitis-associated premalignant cancer (CApC) model. Chronic colitis (CC) was induced in BALB/c mice using dextran sodium sulfate. CApC was induced by dextran sodium sulfate treatment to CC-affected mice. IL-6 expression was determined by quantitative RT-PCR and immunofluorescence staining in colon. Phospho-Stat3 expression was examined by Western blotting and immunofluorescence analysis. The expression of IL-6 receptors (i.e., the IL-6R alpha-chain and gp130) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha converting enzyme in the colon was examined by laser-capture microdissection and immunofluorescence staining. Soluble IL-6R alpha (sIL-6R alpha) was examined by Western blotting of epithelial cell-depleted colonic tissues. We also investigated whether a soluble gp130-Fc fusion protein could prevent CApC. IL-6 expression was increased in the colon of CC- and CApC-affected mice and was restricted to lamina propria-macrophages. The expression of IL-6R alpha and tumor necrosis factor-alpha converting enzyme was increased in the lamina propria CD11b-macrophages of CC-affected mice. sIL-6R alpha expression was also increased in these tissues. Reduced levels of IL-6R alpha generation were observed in the colonic epithelial cells of CC- and CApC-affected mice and were associated with the increased expression of gp130 and phospho-Stat3. Treatment with soluble gp130Fc significantly reduced the CApC. IL-6 trans-signaling in epithelial cells induced by macrophage-derived IL-6/sIL-6R alpha plays a crucial role in the development of CAC.

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