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Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Nov 1;11(21):7674-82.

Cyclooxygenase-2-dependent activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 by interleukin-6 in non-small cell lung cancer.

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Lung Cancer Research Program, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles, 90095, USA.



Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), phosphorylated signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) are elevated in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). These molecules affect numerous cellular pathways, including angiogenesis and apoptosis resistance, and, therefore, may act in concert in NSCLC.


We examined IL-6 and phosphorylated STAT3 in COX-2-overexpressing [COX-2 sense-oriented (COX-2-S)] NSCLC cells and control cells. The effect of IL-6, STAT3, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, and mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase on vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) production and apoptosis resistance was assessed in COX-2-overexpresing cells.


We report that NSCLC cells overexpressing COX-2 (COX-2-S) have increased IL-6 and phosphorylated STAT3 expression compared with control cells. IL-6 induced expression of VEGF in NSCLC cells. Moreover, blocking IL-6, mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase, or phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase decreased VEGF production in COX-2-S cells. The addition of IL-6 to NSCLC cells resulted in increased apoptosis resistance. Furthermore, the inhibition of STAT3 or IL-6 induced apoptosis and reduced survivin expression, a member of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein family in COX-2-S cells.


Overall, these findings suggest a novel pathway in which COX-2 activates STAT3 by inducing IL-6 expression. This pathway could contribute to tumor formation by promoting survivin-dependent apoptosis resistance and VEGF production. These findings provide a rationale for the future development of STAT3, IL-6, and/or COX-2-targeted therapies for the treatment of lung cancer.

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