Interleukin-11 is the dominant IL-6 family cytokine during gastrointestinal tumorigenesis and can be targeted therapeutically

Cancer Cell. 2013 Aug 12;24(2):257-71. doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2013.06.017.


Among the cytokines linked to inflammation-associated cancer, interleukin (IL)-6 drives many of the cancer "hallmarks" through downstream activation of the gp130/STAT3 signaling pathway. However, we show that the related cytokine IL-11 has a stronger correlation with elevated STAT3 activation in human gastrointestinal cancers. Using genetic mouse models, we reveal that IL-11 has a more prominent role compared to IL-6 during the progression of sporadic and inflammation-associated colon and gastric cancers. Accordingly, in these models and in human tumor cell line xenograft models, pharmacologic inhibition of IL-11 signaling alleviated STAT3 activation, suppressed tumor cell proliferation, and reduced the invasive capacity and growth of tumors. Our results identify IL-11 signaling as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / immunology*
  • Gastric Mucosa / immunology
  • Gastric Mucosa / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-11 / genetics
  • Interleukin-11 / immunology
  • Interleukin-11 / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Nude
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Interleukin-11
  • Interleukin-6

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE43800