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Clin Exp Metastasis. 2004;21(8):709-17.

Carcinoembryonic antigen promotes tumor cell survival in liver through an IL-10-dependent pathway.

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Department of Oncology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA.


Most circulating tumor cells die within 24 h of entering the hepatic microvasculature because their arrest initiates an ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury that is cytotoxic. Human colorectal carcinomas (CRC) produce the glycoprotein Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA) that increases experimental liver metastasis in nude mice. Since CEA induces release of IL-6 and IL-10, we hypothesized that CEA inhibits the I/R injury through a Kupffer cell-mediated cytokine-dependent pathway. We assessed cytokine effects in CRC co-cultured with liver and in vivo. Human CRC prelabeled with fluorescent dyes were incubated with a reoxygenated suspension of ischemic nude mouse liver fragments in a bioreactor. CEA, rhIL-6 or rhIL-10 were either administered to the donor mice prior to hepatic ischemia or during co-culture. Liver donors were athymic nude or iNOS, IL-6 or IL-10 knock out mice. Ischemic-reoxygenated liver kills Clone A CRC through production of nitric oxide (NO) and superoxide anion. Treatment of liver donors with CEA prior to hepatic ischemia inhibited this in vitro cytotoxicity through an IL-10 and Kupffer cell dependent pathway that inhibited NF-kappaB activation, NO production and iNOS upregulation. IL-10 but not IL-6 enhanced CRC survival in nude mouse liver in vivo. Thus, CEA enhanced metastasis by inducing IL-10 to inhibit iNOS upregulation in host liver.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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