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Cancer Cell. 2013 Aug 12;24(2):257-71. doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2013.06.017.

Interleukin-11 is the dominant IL-6 family cytokine during gastrointestinal tumorigenesis and can be targeted therapeutically.

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Melbourne, VIC 3050, Australia.


Among the cytokines linked to inflammation-associated cancer, interleukin (IL)-6 drives many of the cancer "hallmarks" through downstream activation of the gp130/STAT3 signaling pathway. However, we show that the related cytokine IL-11 has a stronger correlation with elevated STAT3 activation in human gastrointestinal cancers. Using genetic mouse models, we reveal that IL-11 has a more prominent role compared to IL-6 during the progression of sporadic and inflammation-associated colon and gastric cancers. Accordingly, in these models and in human tumor cell line xenograft models, pharmacologic inhibition of IL-11 signaling alleviated STAT3 activation, suppressed tumor cell proliferation, and reduced the invasive capacity and growth of tumors. Our results identify IL-11 signaling as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers.

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