Osteosarcoma is characterized by a high malignant and metastatic potential. Angiogenesis is essential for the caner metastasis. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a multifunctional cytokine that is associated with the disease status and outcomes of cancers. However, the relationship between IL-6 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression in human osteosarcoma is mostly unknown. Here we found that the IL-6 and VEGF expression was correlated with tumor stage and significantly higher than that in normal bone. Incubation of osteosarcoma cells with IL-6 increased VEGF mRNA and protein expression. Pretreatment of cells with IL-6R antibody reduced IL-6-mediated VEGF production. The apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1)/p38/AP-1 pathway was activated after IL-6 treatment, and IL-6-induced VEGF expression was abolished by the specific inhibitor and siRNA of ASK1, p38, and AP-1 cascades. Importantly, knockdown IL-6 reduced VEGF expression and abolished osteosarcoma conditional medium-mediated angiogenesis. Taken together, these results indicate that IL-6 occurs through ASK1 and p38, which in turn activates AP-1, resulting in the activations of VEGF expression and contributing the angiogenesis of human osteosarcoma cells.
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