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Int J Cancer. 1991 Aug 19;49(1):118-21.

Interleukin 6 is secreted by breast fibroblasts and stimulates 17 beta-oestradiol oxidoreductase activity of MCF-7 cells: possible paracrine regulation of breast 17 beta-oestradiol levels.

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Department of Medicine, Royal Liverpool Hospital, UK.


Previous studies have demonstrated that cultured human breast fibroblasts secrete a high-molecular-weight polypeptide which stimulates the ability of human breast-cancer MCF-7 cells to convert oestrone (E1) to the biologically more active 17 beta-oestradiol (E2). This effect is mediated by an increase in reductive E2 oxidoreductase (EOR) activity. We have identified the fibroblast-derived stimulatory factor as interleukin 6 (IL6) or an immunologically related peptide. Human breast fibroblasts in culture secreted up to 10 ng IL6/ml medium during 24 hr of incubation. The effects of IL6 and breast fibroblast conditioned medium (CM) on reductive EOR activity of MCF-7 cells were similar; both CM and IL6 potently stimulated enzyme activity in a dose-dependent manner, and both exerted synergistic stimulatory effects in combination with E2. A polyclonal neutralizing antibody to IL6 completely abolished the reductive EOR-stimulating activity of CM. These results indicate that breast stromal fibroblasts may have a paracrine role in regulation of breast-cancer-tissue levels of E2, and that this effect is mediated by IL6 or a closely related peptide.

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