Proliferation of human non-small-cell lung cancer cell lines: role of interleukin-6

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 1998 Oct;19(4):606-12. doi: 10.1165/ajrcmb.19.4.3247.


Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is involved in regulation of the immune response, acute phase reaction, and cell proliferation. The aim of this study was to investigate whether IL-6 is implicated in cell proliferation of human non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines. We analyzed IL-6 messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein expression in eight NSCLC cell lines: A549, Calu3, Calu6, H23, H522, H810, H1155, and H1299. The A549, Calu3, Calu6, and H23 cell lines expressed IL-6 mRNA and protein. In these cell lines, fetal calf serum (FCS) significantly increased cell proliferation as assessed by thymidine incorporation. In the presence of IL-6 antisense oligonucleotides, both proliferation and IL-6 synthesis were downregulated. In contrast, IL-6 mRNA and protein could not be detected in the NSCLC cell lines H522, H810, H1155, and H1299. In these NSCLC cell lines, FCS only marginally increased cell proliferation and IL-6 antisense oligonucleotides did not affect cell proliferation. The addition of neither exogenous IL-6 nor neutralizing anti-IL-6 antibodies affected cell proliferation in any of the experiments. Our data thus provide evidence that intracellular IL-6 is required in the control of cell proliferation in a subset of human NSCLC cell lines. We suggest the existence of two subtypes of NSCLC, an IL-6-dependent and an IL-6-independent type.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies / pharmacology
  • Antisense Elements (Genetics)
  • Blood Proteins / pharmacology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / chemistry
  • Immune System / immunology
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics*
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-6 / pharmacology
  • Lung Neoplasms*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Thymidine / pharmacology
  • Tritium
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / cytology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / physiology


  • Antibodies
  • Antisense Elements (Genetics)
  • Blood Proteins
  • Interleukin-6
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tritium
  • Thymidine