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Am J Pathol. 2001 Dec;159(6):2159-65.

Interleukin-6 is an autocrine growth factor in human prostate cancer.

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Department of Pathology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in this group. We have found that interleukin (IL)-6 protein concentrations are increased approximately 18-fold in clinically localized prostate cancers when compared to normal prostate tissue. Normal and neoplastic prostatic epithelial cells in culture, with the exception of LNCaP cells, secrete IL-6. Addition of exogenous IL-6 to primary epithelial cells in culture or the LNCaP prostate cancer cell line leads to phosphorylation of Stat-3 and increases in net cell proliferation. The concentration of IL-6 receptor is increased eightfold in the prostate cancer tissues and is increased in the cancer cells by immunohistochemistry. The increased expression of IL-6 receptor is correlated with increased proliferation of prostate cancer cells in vivo as assessed by Ki67 immunohistochemistry. These findings strongly support the hypothesis that IL-6 acts as a significant autocrine growth factor in vivo for primary, androgen-dependent prostate cancers.

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