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J Clin Invest. 1995 Jun;95(6):2846-52.

Interleukin-6 enhances hypercalcemia and bone resorption mediated by parathyroid hormone-related protein in vivo.

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Department of Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio 78284, USA.


Tumors frequently induce the multifunctional cytokine IL-6, which has been linked to several paraneoplastic syndromes, most notably cachexia. IL-6 stimulates osteoclast formation, causes mild hypercalcemia, and is produced by bone cells in vitro upon exposure to systemic hormones. Since IL-6 is produced together with parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTH-rP) in some patients with cancer, we tested the hypothesis that production of IL-6 potentiates the effects of PTH-rP on Ca2+ homeostasis and osteoclastic bone resorption and examined potential mechanisms for these interactions in vivo. Chinese hamster ovarian (CHO) cells stably transfected with cDNAs for IL-6 (CHO/IL-6) and PTH-rP sense (CHO/PTH-rP) or antisense (CHO/PTH-rP AS) were inoculated intramuscularly into nude mice. Experimental groups included CHO/IL-6 plus CHO/PTH-rP; CHO/IL-6 plus CHO/PTH-rP AS; CHO/IL-6 alone; and CHO/PTH-rP alone. Blood ionized Ca2+ was measured on days 0, 7, 10, 12, and 13. Three different developmental stages in the osteoclast lineage were examined at day 13: the early multipotential precursor, granulocyte macrophage colony-forming units (CFU-GM); more mature mononuclear osteoclast precursors, assessed by their capacity to form tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase-positive multinucleated cells in marrow cultures; and mature osteoclasts, assessed by histomorphometry. IL-6 increased CFU-GM but not bone resorption or Ca2+. In contrast, PTH-rP induced hypercalcemia and bone resorption and increased multinucleated osteoclasts and more mature precursors cells, but not CFU-GM. However, mice treated with both IL-6 and PTH-rP had very marked hypercalcemia and osteoclastosis as well as an increase in the number of both CFU-GM and mature osteoclast precursors. These data demonstrate that IL-6 enhances PTH-rP-mediated hypercalcemia and bone resorption, most likely by increasing the pool of early osteoclast precursors that in turn can differentiate to mature osteoclasts. We conclude that IL-6 stimulatory effects on osteoclast precursors may enhance the effects of other bone resorption factors that act at later stages in the osteoclast lineage.

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