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Am J Gastroenterol. 1996 Jul;91(7):1417-22.

Serum interleukin-6 levels reflect disease status of gastric cancer.

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Department of Surgery, Veterans, General Hospital-Taipei, Taiwan.



Interleukin-6 (IL-6) has been shown to be associated with cancer development. However, its role in gastric cancer patients has never been investigated. Our intent was to investigate this role.


Using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, we determined the IL-6 levels in sera of patients with gastric cancer (n = 218), benign gastric lesions (n = 9), and hepatitis B (n = 9), and in normal subjects (n = 85). C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and Helicobacter pylori antibodies were simultaneously determined in 150 and 133 gastric cancer patients, respectively. Serial serum IL-6 levels were also measured in 14 gastric cancer patients. Six gastric cancer cell lines were examined for IL-6 secretion. For comparison, serum carcinoembryonic antigen levels in all gastric cancer patients were also determined.


Mean IL-6 levels were significantly higher in patients with gastric cancer (10.0 +/- 9.5 pg/ml) than in patients with benign gastric lesions (2.6 +/- 0.5 pg/ml), in hepatitis B carriers (2.8 +/- 0.9 pg/ml), and in normal subjects (2.5 +/- 0.3 pg/ml). Gastric cancer patients with IL-6 > 10 pg/ml increased in a stage-related manner (p = 0.0001). Serum IL-6 levels increased when four patients had recurrence, whereas IL-6 levels decreased in 10 patients with a disease-free status after gastric resection. Serum IL-6 levels correlated moderately with serum CRP levels (r = 0.5, p < 0.01), but not with H. pylori antibody titers (p = 0.23). Serum IL-6 levels correlated with survival, but not as an independent prognostic indicator. Conversely, patients with CEA > 5 ng/ml increased in a stage-related manner, but this is not an effective reflection of disease progression. Five of six gastric cancer cell lines secrete IL-6.


Serum IL-6 levels correlate with disease status of gastric cancer and may be used as a new tumor marker for monitoring treatment and response of gastric cancer patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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