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Chronic inflammation has been recognized as a risk factor for the development and maintenance of malignant disease. Cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), oncostatin M (OSM), and interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) promote the development of both acute and chronic inflammation while promoting in vitro metrics of breast cancer metastasis. However, anti-IL-6 and anti-IL-1β therapeutics have not yielded significant results against solid tumors in clinical trials. Here we show that these three cytokines are interrelated in expression. Using the Curtis TCGA™ dataset, we have determined that there is a correlation between expression levels of OSM, IL-6, and IL-1β and reduced breast cancer patient survival (r = 0.6, p = 2.2 x 10−23). Importantly, we confirm that OSM induces at least a 4-fold increase in IL-6 production from estrogen receptor-negative (ER−) breast cancer cells in a manner that is dependent on STAT3 signaling. Furthermore, OSM induces STAT3 phosphorylation and IL-1β promotes p65 phosphorylation to synergistically induce IL-6 secretion in ER− MDA-MB-231 and to a lesser extent in ER+ MCF7 human breast cancer cells. Induction may be reduced in the ER+ MCF7 cells due to a previously known suppressive interaction between ER and STAT3. Interestingly, we show in MCF7 cells that ER’s interaction with STAT3 is reduced by 50% through both OSM and IL-1β treatment, suggesting a role for ER in mitigating STAT3-mediated inflammatory cascades. Here, we provide a rationale for a breast cancer treatment regime that simultaneously suppresses multiple targets, as these cytokines possess many overlapping functions that increase metastasis and worsen patient survival.


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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.