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J Clin Invest. 1989 May;83(5):1512-8.

Interleukin 6 gene expression in normal and neoplastic B cells.

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  • 1Division of Tumor Immunology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


In the present report we demonstrate that the IL-6 gene is expressed in anti-Ig-activated and neoplastic B cells. After activation with anti-Ig, splenic B cells rapidly expressed IL-6 mRNA with peak expression occurring at 4 h and declining rapidly thereafter. In an attempt to exclude that the IL-6 mRNA expression was in non-B cells, T cells and monocytes were extensively depleted. In this highly purified B cell population, IL-6 mRNA was retained, whereas the expression of the T cell- and monocyte-restricted CD2 and CD14 genes was nearly undetectable. These results are consistent with the conclusion that activated B cells express IL-6 mRNA. Because we found IL-6 mRNA expression in normal activated B lymphocytes, we examined the expression of IL-6 mRNA in B cell neoplasms. 11 of 25 non-Hodgkins B cell lymphomas and 4 of 4 myelomas and plasma cell leukemias expressed IL-6 mRNA, whereas only 1 of 19 B cell leukemias was positive. To exclude that IL-6 mRNA expression in neoplastic B cells was the result of contaminating non-B cells, T cells and monocytes were extensively depleted from the tumor specimens. In the three IL-6-positive tumor samples depleted of T cells and monocytes, IL-6 mRNA expression was retained in all cases. These observations provide support for the idea that the IL-6 gene is expressed in normal activated and neoplastic B cells.

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