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July 1996

Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Otolaryngology and Surgical Research Center, Departments of Surgery (Drs von Biberstein, Spiro, and Kreutzer) and Pathology (Drs Lindquist and Kreutzer), University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122(7):751-759. doi:10.1001/archotol.1996.01890190047012

Background:  We hypothesized that in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, the overexpression of protumorigenic interleukin-1 (IL-1) activity within the tumor tissue is a result of decreased expression of the specific antagonist or inhibitor (ie, IL-1 receptor antagonist) by the tumor cells. Ultimately, this local overexpression of IL-1 activity increases tumor growth and metastasis.

Design:  To test our hypotheses, immunologic analysis for IL-1α, IL-1β, and IL-1 receptor antagonist was performed on histologic sections and tumor homogenates of human head and neck squamous cell carcinomas.

Setting:  University teaching hospital.

Patients or Other Participants:  Normal and tumor specimens were obtained from patients undergoing surgical resections of the head and neck for benign and malignant disease.

Results:  Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated the presence of IL-1α, IL-1β, and IL-1 receptor antagonist within tumor cells and inflammatory cells in the tumor stroma in 19 of 19 tumor specimens. Quantitatively, IL-1α was present in 19 of 19 tumor specimens (1.97±0.46 ng/mg of total protein [mean±SD]) and 5 of 9 normal specimens (0.23±0.12 ng/mg of total protein). All specimens contained IL-1β in detectable quantities (1.60±0.29 ng/mg of total protein in tumor specimens and 0.189±0.04 ng/mg of total protein in normal specimens). All specimens contained IL-1 receptor antagonist (368.87±57.63 ng/mg of total protein in tumor specimens and 585.10± 166.03 ng/mg of total protein in normal specimens). The mean total IL-1/IL-1 receptor antagonist ratio was 13.26±2.31 in patients with cancer compared with 0.997±0.26 in normal patients.

Conclusions:  The increased IL-1 index in the cancer state compared with the normal state reflects an imbalance of IL-1 and IL-1 receptor antagonist, which may contribute to unrestricted growth and metastasis of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122:751-759