CDDO-Me, a synthetic triterpenoid, inhibits expression of IL-6 and Stat3 phosphorylation in multi-drug resistant ovarian cancer cells

Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2009 Mar;63(4):681-9. doi: 10.1007/s00280-008-0785-8. Epub 2008 Jun 28.


Previous studies have identified interleukin 6 (IL-6) as an important cytokine with prognostic significance in ovarian cancer. Activation of the IL-6-Stat3 pathway contributes to tumor cell growth, survival and drug resistance in several cancers, including ovarian cancer. To explore potential therapeutic strategies for interrupting signaling through this pathway, we assessed the ability of CDDO-Me, a synthetic triterpenoid, to inhibit IL-6 secretion, Stat3 phosphorylation, Stat3 nuclear translocation and paclitaxel sensitivity in several cell line model systems. These studies demonstrated that CDDO-Me significantly inhibits IL-6 secretion in paclitaxel-resistant ovarian cancer cells and specifically suppresses IL-6- or oncostatin M-induced Stat3 nuclear translocation. Treatment with CDDO-Me significantly decreases the levels of Stat3, Jak2, and Src phosphorylation in ovarian and breast cancer cell lines with constitutively activated Stat3. This inhibition of the IL-6-Stat3 pathway correlated with suppression of the anti-apoptotic Stat3 target genes Bcl-X(L), survivin, and Mcl-1, and with apoptosis induction as measured by monitoring PARP and its cleavage product, as well as by quantitative measurement of the apoptosis-associated CK18Asp396. Furthermore, CDDO-Me increases the cytotoxic effects of paclitaxel in the paclitaxel-resistant ovarian cancer cell line OVCAR8(TR) (2 to 5-fold) and of cisplatin in the cisplatin-resistant ovarian cancer cell line A2780cp70 (2 to 4-fold). Our data confirm that CDDO-Me interrupts the signaling of multiple kinases involved in the IL-6-Stat3 and Src signaling pathways. Inhibition is likely achieved through multiple points within these pathways. In a model system of established acquired drug resistance, CCDO-Me is effective at partially reversing the drug-resistance phenotype.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism*
  • Oleanolic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Oleanolic Acid / pharmacology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Protein Transport
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / genetics
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • RNA, Messenger
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • Oleanolic Acid
  • methyl 2-cyano-3,12-dioxoolean-1,9-dien-28-oate