Reduction in serum IL-6 after vacination of breast cancer patients with tumour-associated antigens is related to estrogen receptor status

Cytokine. 2000 May;12(5):458-65. doi: 10.1006/cyto.1999.0591.


Elevated serum IL-6 concentrations have been associated with poor prognosis in a variety of cancers, and decreases in serum IL-6 concentrations have been reported after chemotherapy. We have demonstrated that serum IL-6 concentrations are elevated in breast cancer patients [normal women 0.7 +/- 2.5 pg/ml (n=36), breast cancer patients 38.3 +/- 138.7 pg/ml (n = 111)]. After vaccination of breast cancer patients with a combination of tumour-associated antigens and biological adjuvants (IL-2 and GM-CSF), the concentration of IL-6 decreased significantly (P<0.05) to 8.1 +/- 14.6 pg/ml (n=85). Other studies have shown that oestrogen suppresses IL-6 production in oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells. We have demonstrated that the decrease in IL-6 associated with vaccination is related to the oestrogen receptor status of the tumours from breast cancer patients, as a decrease in IL-6 from 124.0 +/- 267.5 pg/ml (n=26) to 6.2 +/- 11.0 pg/ml (n=34) only occurs in patients with oestrogen receptor negative tumours. The IL-6 concentration in breast cancer patients with oestrogen receptor positive tumours remained unchanged (9.5 pg/ml before vaccination, and 9.3 pg/ml after vaccination). These results suggest that postmenopausal women with oestrogen receptor negative breast cancers, who do not respond well to either hormonal therapy with tamoxifen or adjuvant chemotherapy, may have a significant response to vaccination with autologous tumour-associated antigens.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate / immunology
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology*
  • CA-125 Antigen / immunology
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology*
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucin-1 / immunology
  • Postmenopause / immunology
  • Receptors, Estrogen / immunology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vaccination


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate
  • CA-125 Antigen
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen
  • Interleukin-6
  • Mucin-1
  • Receptors, Estrogen