Inhibition of IL-6 signaling significantly reduces primary tumor growth and recurrencies in orthotopic xenograft models of pancreatic cancer

Int J Cancer. 2015 Sep 1;137(5):1035-46. doi: 10.1002/ijc.29445. Epub 2015 Jan 29.


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most fatal human tumors, with radical surgical resection as the only curative treatment option. However, resection is only possible in a small fraction of patients, and about 80% of the patients develop recurrencies. PDAC development is facilitated by the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), which acts via classic and trans-signaling. Both pathways are inhibited by the anti-IL-6-receptor antibody tocilizumab, whereas the fusion protein sgp130Fc specifically blocks trans-signaling. Here, we show that conservative or adjuvant therapy with both inhibitors reduces tumor growth in an orthotopic model of human Colo357 cells in SCID/bg mice. In the conservative setting, median primary tumor weight was reduced 2.4-fold for tocilizumab and 4.4-fold for sgp130Fc. sgp130Fc additionally led to a decrease in microvessel density, which was not observed with tocilizumab. In the adjuvant therapeutic setting after surgical resection of the primary tumor, treatment with tocilizumab or sgp130Fc decreased the local recurrence rate from 87.5% in the control group to 62.5 or 50%, respectively. Furthermore, the median weight of the local recurrent tumors was clearly diminished, and both inhibitors reduced the number of distant metastases. A significant reduction of tumor weight and metastases-comparable to gemcitabine treatment-was also observed with both inhibitors in another model using the poorly differentiated PancTuI cells. Our findings demonstrate the inhibition of IL-6 as a new treatment option in PDAC.

Keywords: IL-6; PDAC; inflammation; sgp130Fc; tocilizumab.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / administration & dosage*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / pharmacology
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / surgery
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Sgp130Fc protein
  • tocilizumab