Circulating levels of interleukin-6 in patients with hormone refractory prostate cancer

Prostate. 1999 Oct 1;41(2):127-33. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0045(19991001)41:2<127::aid-pros7>;2-h.


Background: Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a cytokine that plays a central role in host defense due to its wide range of immune and hematopoietic activities. It is found in high levels in human ejaculate, and has recently been found to regulate prostate-specific protein expression in prostate cancer cells through nonsteroidal activation of the androgen receptor. IL-6 may be a candidate mediator of morbidity in patients with metastatic disease. We attempted to evaluate the potential of circulating IL-6 levels as a marker of disease progression. MATERIALS AND METHODS Serum IL-6, prostate specific antigen (PSA), percent free PSA (%fPSA), and prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) were measured using commercially available assays in 407 men, including 15 controls. The rest of the study population had clinical or histologic evidence of prostate diseases, including 41 patients with chronic prostatitis, 167 with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), 8 with high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN), 88 with localized prostate cancer, 22 with local recurrence after treatment of primary tumor, 4 with advanced untreated disease (nodal or bony metastases), 23 with advanced hormone dependent disease, and 39 with advanced hormone refractory disease (PSA > 1.0 ng/ml while on hormone treatment and/or evidence of disease progression). None had history of concurrent malignancy or acute inflammatory condition. Kruskal-Wallis analysis of variance and Spearman's correlation analysis were used for statistical analyses.

Results: Serum levels of IL-6 were significantly elevated in patients with clinically evident hormone refractory disease (5.7 +/- 1.9 pg/ml) and statistical significance was seen when comparing the elevated serum IL-6 levels to those in normal controls, prostatitis, BPH, and localized and recurrent disease, (P values < 0.01). Compared to serum levels of controls and BPH, PSA was significantly elevated in advanced untreated disease and hormone refractory groups (P < 0.05). Percent fPSA was significantly lower in all cancer patients but the hormone refractory. Serum PSMA was elevated in advanced untreated prostate cancer. Serum IL-6 showed positive correlation with PSMA and negative correlation with serum PSA but did not attain statistical significance.

Conclusions: Serum IL-6 levels are significantly elevated in hormone-refractory prostate cancer patients and may be a surrogate marker of the androgen independent phenotype.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Interleukin-6 / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Interleukin-6
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen