Increased autocrine interleukin-6 production is significantly associated with worse clinical outcome in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
J Cell Physiol
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Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) remains incurable with current standard therapy. We have previously reported that an increased expression of interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor CD126 leads to resistance of CLL cells to chemotherapy and worse prognosis for patients with CLL. In this study, we determine whether autocrine IL-6 production by CLL B cells is associated with poor clinical outcome and explore IL-6-mediated survival mechanism in primary CLL cells. Our results demonstrate that higher levels of autocrine IL-6 are significantly associated with shorter absolute lymphocyte doubling time, patients received treatment, without complete remission, advanced Binet stages, 17p/11q deletion, and shorter time to first time treatment and progression-free survival. IL-6 activated both STAT3 and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) in primary CLL cells. Blocking IL-6 receptor and JAK2 inhibited IL-6-mediated activation of STAT3 and NF-κB. Our study demonstrates that an increased autocrine IL-6 production by CLL B-cells are associated with worse clinical outcome for patients with CLL. IL-6 promotes CLL cell survival by activating both STAT3 and NF-κB through diverse signaling cascades. Neutralizing IL-6 or blocking IL-6 receptor might contribute overcoming the resistance of CLL cells to chemotherapy. We propose that the measurement of autocrine IL-6 could be a useful approach to predict clinical outcome.