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Fertil Steril. 2005 Apr;83 Suppl 1:1086-92.

Reduction of estrogen production by interleukin-6 in a human granulosa tumor cell line may have implications for endometriosis-associated infertility.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Tottori University School of Medicine, 36-1 Mishimachi, Yonago 683-8504, Japan.



To examine the effect of interleukin-6 (IL-6) on estrogen production and aromatase activity using a human granulosa tumor cell line (KGN cells). The involvement of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade in the inhibitory effects of IL-6 on estrogen production was also evaluated.


Molecular and biological studies of KGN cells.


Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Tottori University Hospital, Yonago, Japan.


Gene expression of IL-6 and the IL-6 receptor was analyzed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and Southern blot analysis. KGN cells were cultured for 48 hours with IL-6 (0.1-10 ng/mL) or IL-6 (10 ng/mL) plus a mitogen activated protein kinase-extracellular signal regulated kinase kinase 1/2 (MEK1/2) inhibitor U0126 (10 microM). Estradiol concentration in the culture supernatants was measured by means of enzyme immunoassay, [1beta-(3)H] androstenedione was added to the cell lysate supernatant, and aromatase activity was determined by measuring the amount of [(3)H] H(2)O released upon the conversion of [1beta-(3)H] androstenedione to estrone. To examine the activation of intracellular signal transduction molecules induced by IL-6, the phosphorylation of Stat3, p38 MAPK, and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) was examined by Western blotting.


Gene expression of IL-6 and its receptor was detected in KGN cells. Estradiol secretion was significantly inhibited by adding IL-6, which also suppressed aromatase activity to 50% of the control. In addition, pretreatment with U0126 restored the IL-6-induced suppression of aromatase activity. IL-6 markedly enhanced the phosphorylation of ERK1/2, but not Stat3 and p38 MAPK. U0126 markedly reduced the level of the IL-6-induced phosphorylation of ERK1/2.


These findings demonstrate that IL-6 may reduce estrogen production via the MAPK signal pathway in human granulosa cells. The results may support the notion that IL-6 is related to impaired estrogen biosynthesis in patients with endometriosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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