Portal but not peripheral serum levels of interleukin 6 could interfere with glucose metabolism in patients with pancreatic cancer

Clin Chim Acta. 1998 Oct;277(2):181-9. doi: 10.1016/s0009-8981(98)00125-9.


Interleukin 6 (IL-6), an autocrine growth factor for many tumors, seems to favour tumor spread to the liver. Our aims were first to evaluate the pattern of portal and systemic IL-6 levels in patients with pancreatic cancer (PC, n = 18) and chronic pancreatitis (CP, n = 22) compared with controls (CS, n = 20); and second, to ascertain whether there was any relation between IL-6 levels and tumor spread or PC-associated Diabetes mellitus. For all subjects, a fasting serum sample was obtained from a cubital vein; a portal serum sample was obtained from nine PC and three CP patients. In cubital and portal sera we measured IL-6, interleukin 1 beta (IL-1b), CA 19-9, c-reactive protein (CRP) and amylase. Systemic IL-6 levels were significantly higher in PC patients than in CS. In PC, portal IL-6 levels were significantly higher than the corresponding systemic values. The same pattern was found in the three CP patients, whereas IL-1b, CA 19-9, CRP and amylase portal levels were the same as systemic values. No correlation was found between PC stage and systemic or portal IL-6 levels. Portal IL-6 levels were correlated with the corresponding fasting serum glucose values. A significant correlation was found between IL-6 values and CRP, ALT, total bilirubin, GGT and creatinine, but not amylase.

In conclusion: (1) Portal IL-6, which is partly of pancreatic origin, is first metabolised in the liver; (2) Systemic IL-6 reflects hepatic and renal functions rather than local conditions in the pancreas; (3) IL-6 does not appear to influence PC spread; (4) IL-6, which is released in large amounts by the inflamed pancreas, may contribute to determining diabetes, thus interfering with the signal transducing pathways involved in glucose metabolism in liver cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Circulation
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Liver / blood supply
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / blood*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatitis / blood
  • Portal System


  • Interleukin-6
  • Glucose