Significance of interleukin-6 (IL-6) in breast cancer (review)

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2007 Apr;102(2):129-35. doi: 10.1007/s10549-006-9328-3. Epub 2006 Aug 23.


Cytokines are factors that are known to have both tumor-promoting and inhibitory effects on breast cancer growth depending presumably on their relative concentrations and the presence of other modulating factors. Different cytokines play an important role in controlling the immune system. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a pleiotropic cytokine with obviously tumor-promoting and tumor-inhibitory effects. Here, we review the role of IL-6 in in vitro experiments of breast tumor cells, in breast tumor tissues (BTs) and assess its potential as a prognostic indicator in breast cancer patients. A literature search was conducted using PubMed, restricted to articles published in English language. In summary, results regarding the effect of IL-6 on breast tumor cells and on BTs are not unique indicating both tumor-promoting and inhibitory effects of IL-6. Concerning patients' serum IL-6 levels, data are surprisingly unique showing IL-6 to be a negative prognosticator in breast tumor patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / physiology*
  • Prognosis


  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-6