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Blockade of interleukin-6 receptor suppresses the proliferation of H460 lung cancer stem cells

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IL-6/6R signaling is closely associated with tumor growth and poor prognosis. Although there is evidence that interleukin-6 receptor (IL-6R)-mediated signaling promotes the growth and malignancy of cancer, the role of IL-6R in cancer stem cells (CSCs) is poorly defined. This study investigated the role of IL-6R in the proliferation of CSCs. Sphere-forming cells were isolated from the H460 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell line and identified as CSCs using confocal microscopy, RT-PCR and WST-1 assay. The H460 spheres demonstrated the typical characteristics of CSCs, including CD133 expression, upregulation of Nanog, self-renewal, and drug resistance to methotrexate (MTX) and fluorouracil (5-FU). The release of IL-6R and its ligand, IL-6, were quantitatively determined and compared between CSCs and non-CSCs. The concentration of soluble IL-6R (sIL-6R) was remarkably high in CSCs compared to that in non-CSCs. Furthermore, significant upregulation of the IL-6R gene was also observed in the CSCs. The growth of CSCs was significantly inhibited by transfection with IL-6R small-interfering RNA (siRNA), as well as with the IL-6R monoclonal antibody (mAb). In addition, blocking both IL-6R and IL-6 using siRNA or mAbs intensified the inhibition of CSC proliferation. These findings indicate that IL-6R is present in CSCs and has an important role in the proliferation of CSCs in the H460 lung cancer cell line. Therefore, we suggest that IL-6R is both a viable target for the development of CSC-directed lung cancer therapeutics and a potential CSC marker in NSCLC.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Konkuk University, SeoulĀ 143-701, Republic of Korea 2: College of Pharmacy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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  • The International Journal of Oncology provides an international forum for the publication of the latest, cutting-edge research in the broad area of oncology and cancer treatment. The journal accepts original high quality works and reviews on all aspects of oncology research including carcinogenesis, metastasis, epidemiology, chemotherapy and viral oncology. Through fair and efficient peer review, the journal is dedicated to publishing top tier research in the field, offering authors rapid publication as well as high standards of copy-editing and production. The International Journal of Oncology is published on a monthly basis in both print and early online.
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