Elevated circulating interleukin-6 is associated with an acute-phase response but reduced fixed hepatic protein synthesis in patients with cancer

Ann Surg. 1991 Jan;213(1):26-31. doi: 10.1097/00000658-199101000-00005.


It has been suggested that, as part of the inflammatory response to the presence of a tumor, various cytokines are produced and these induce hepatic synthesis of acute-phase proteins (APP). Under these circumstances it is not known what changes occur in the fixed component of hepatic protein synthesis. The aim of this study was to compare circulating interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) concentrations and fixed hepatic protein synthesis rates in a group of healthy controls (n = 6) with a group of patients with an established APP response secondary to hepatic metastasis from colorectal cancer (n = 6). Fixed hepatic protein synthesis rates were measured following a primed, constant 20-hour infusion of 15N-glycine. The liver was biopsied at laparotomy. The APP response was assessed by serum C-reactive protein concentration and cytokines were assayed by a combination of immunoassay and bioassay. The patients with advanced cancer and an on-going APP response had elevated circulating IL-6 concentrations (p less than 0.01). Rates of fixed hepatic protein synthesis were 30% lower than those observed in controls (p less than 0.01). These findings demonstrate that in patients with hepatic metastasis, although the synthesis of certain acute-phase export proteins can be increased, fixed protein synthesis is reduced. Whether these changes in the distribution of hepatic protein synthesis are mediated by IL-6 will require further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute-Phase Reaction / blood*
  • Acute-Phase Reaction / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / blood*
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / secondary
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Colonic Neoplasms / blood
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / blood
  • Interleukin-1 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / blood*
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • C-Reactive Protein