Background: Hepcidin, a key regulator of iron metabolism, is produced mainly by interleukin-6 (IL-6) during inflammation. A mechanism linking cancer-related anemia and IL-6 through hepcidin production is suggested. To clarify the hypothesis that overproduction of IL-6 elevates hepcidin levels and contributes to the development of cancer-related anemia, we evaluated anti-IL-6 receptor antibody treatment of cancer-related anemia in an IL-6-producing human lung cancer xenograft model. Methods: Nude mice were subcutaneously inoculated with cells of the IL-6-producing human lung cancer cell line LC-06-JCK and assessed as a model of cancer-related anemia. Mice bearing LC-06-JCK were administered rat anti-mouse IL-6 receptor antibody MR16-1 and their serum hepcidin levels and hematological parameters were determined. Results: LC-06-JCK-bearing mice developed anemia according to the production of human IL-6 from xenografts, with decreased values of hemoglobin, hematocrit, and mean corpuscular volume (MCV) compared to non-tumor-bearing (NTB) mice. LC-06-JCK-bearing mice showed decreased body weight and serum albumin with increased serum amyloid A. MR16-1 treatment showed significant inhibition of decreased body weight and serum albumin levels, and suppressed serum amyloid A level. There was no difference in tumor volume between MR16-1-treated mice and immunoglobulin G (IgG)-treated control mice. Decreased hemoglobin, hematocrit, and MCV in LC-06-JCK-bearing mice was significantly relieved by MR16-1 treatment. LC-06-JCK-bearing mice showed high red blood cell counts and erythropoietin levels as compared to NTB mice, whereas MR16-1 treatment did not affect their levels. Serum hepcidin and ferritin levels were statistically elevated in mice bearing LC-06-JCK. LC-06-JCK-bearing mice showed lower values of MCV, mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH), and serum iron as compared to NTB mice. Administration of MR16-1 to mice bearing LC-06-JCK significantly suppressed levels of both serum hepcidin and ferritin, with increased values of MCV and MCH. Conclusions: Our results suggest that overproduction of hepcidin by IL-6 signaling might be a major factor that leads to functionally iron-deficient cancer-related anemia in the LC-06-JCK model. We demonstrated that inhibition of the IL-6 signaling pathway by MR16-1 treatment resulted in significant recovery of iron-deficiency anemia and alleviation of cancer-related symptoms. These results indicate that IL-6 signaling might be one possible target pathway to treat cancer-related anemia disorders.
Noguchi-Sasaki, M., Sasaki, Y., Shimonaka, Y., Mori, K., & Fujimoto-Ouchi, K. (2016). Treatment with anti-IL-6 receptor antibody prevented increase in serum hepcidin levels and improved anemia in mice inoculated with IL-6-producing lung carcinoma cells. BMC Cancer, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12885-016-2305-2