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April 1996

Interleukin-6 Production by Rat Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells Is Associated With Metastatic Potential but Not With Tumorigenicity

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery (Drs Reichner, Albina, and Bland and Messrs Mulligan and Palla) and Medical Oncology (Dr Hixson), Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University School of Medicine, Providence, RI.

Arch Surg. 1996;131(4):360-365. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1996.01430160018002

Background:  The phenotypic characteristics that allow some tumor cells to metastasize have not been fully identified. The production and/or response of tumor cells to various growth factors have been shown to distinguish cells of differing metastatic potentials.

Objectives:  To determine (1) whether rat hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines produce interleukin-6 (IL-6) and (2) whether production of IL-6 correlates with either metastatic potential or tumorigenicity.

Methods:  The clonal cell lines 1682.C.2.9.LO (poorly metastatic) and 1682.C.2.9.L10 (highly metastatic) were selected from a parental hepatocellular carcinoma induced in ACI rats by feeding an ethionine-containing diet and adapted to growth in vitro.

Results:  Both cell lines resulted in primary tumors with equal frequency and developed a 40-mm nodule in a similar period of time, when an inoculum of 5×106 cells was injected subcutaneously; however, only L10 cells metastasized to the lung. These cell lines did not demonstrate differential expression of several antigens noted to correlate with metastatic potential, including CD44 variant glycoprotein, p53, transferrin receptor, and E-cadherin. In contrast, LO cells produced less than 10 U of IL-6 per milliliter in culture (as determined by bioassay using 7TD1 cells), whereas L10 cells released more than 95 U of this cytokine per milliliter under identical culture conditions (P<.01, Student's t test). In addition, serum concentrations of IL-6 were elevated in animals bearing L10-induced primary tumors but not in those with LO-induced tumors of comparable mass. Exogenous addition of IL-6 to both tumor cell lines had no effect on the rate of growth in vitro, supporting the similar tumorigenic potentials observed in vivo.

Conclusion:  Excess IL-6 production appears to identify cells with metastatic potential and does not appear to be essential to the establishment of a primary tumor.(Arch Surg. 1996;131:360-365)