Growing evidence proposes an important role for pro-inflammatory cytokines during tumor development. Several experimental and clinical studies have linked the pleiotropic cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) to the pathogenesis of sporadic and inflammation-associated colorectal cancer (CRC). Increased IL-6 expression has been related to advanced stage of disease and decreased survival in CRC patients. According to experimental studies, these effects are mediated through IL-6 trans-signaling promoting tumor cell proliferation and inhibiting apoptosis through gp130 activation on tumor cells with subsequent signaling through Janus kinases (JAKs) and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3). During recent years, several therapeutics targeting the IL-6/STAT3 pathway have been developed and pose a promising strategy for the treatment of CRC. This review discusses the molecular mechanisms and possible therapeutic targets involved in IL-6 signaling in CRC.
Keywords: IL-6; colorectal cancer; interleukin-6.