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Eur Cytokine Netw. 1999 Dec;10(4):501-8.

Human interleukin-6 is in vivo an autocrine growth factor for human herpesvirus-8-infected malignant B lymphocytes.

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INSERM U. 131, Institut Paris-Sud sur les Cytokines, 32, rue des Carnets, 92140 Clamart, France.


Human interleukin-6 (hIL-6) acts as a growth factor in several human B lymphoid cancers. As human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8) encodes for a viral IL-6 (vIL-6), the viral cytokine may be responsible for several manifestations of HHV-8-related disorders. Using an anti-hIL-6 mAb (B-E8) which does not recognize vIL-6, we investigated the involvement of the human cytokine in the proliferation of HHV-8-positive primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) cells. In vitro, 5/5 PEL cell lines produced hIL-6 (4 to 1,200 pg/ml). The EBV- HHV-8+ cell line (BCBL-1) was adapted to grow in SCID mice. hIL-6 was detected in the serum of mice with grafts, as well as human soluble CD138 (sCD138) and human IL-10 (hIL-10). The serum level of these mediators increased with tumor progression. The effect of treatment with the B-E8 mAb on the tumor progression and survival was evaluated. This treatment significantly slowed down the tumor development: on day 54, there were more mice with low levels of sCD138 and hIL-10 in the treated group than in controls (p = 0.03 and 0.02, respectively); treatment also delayed death (median date of death was day 65 for control mice and day 84 for anti-hIL-6 mAb-treated mice; p < 0.02). Thus, hIL-6 is expressed in addition to vIL-6 in HHV-8-positive malignant B lymphocytes, and the viral cytokine does not totally substitute for human IL-6 in promoting tumor progression.

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