Interleukin-6 contributes to Mcl-1 up-regulation and TRAIL resistance via an Akt-signaling pathway in cholangiocarcinoma cells

Shogo Kobayashi, Nathan W. Werneburg, Steven F. Bronk, Scott H. Kaufmann, Gregory J. Gores

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Cholangiocarcinomas often arise within a background of chronic inflammation suggesting that inflammation imparts survival signals to this cancer. Previous studies have also shown that the inflammatory cytokine interleukin (interleukin [IL]-6) contributes to survival signals in an autocrine fashion and that myeloid cell leukemia-1 (Mcl-1), an antiapoptotic member of the B-cell leukemia-2 family, is an important participant in tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) resistance in this neoplasm. The present study evaluated the possibility that IL-6 signaling contributes to Mcl-1 up-regulation in cholangiocarcinoma. Methods: Protein kinase B (Akt) and Mcl-1 expression in human tissue was assessed by immunohistochemistry. The relationship between IL-6 signaling, Akt activity, and Mcl-1 expression was examined in cell lines. Results: Immunohistochemistry showed that the serine/threonine kinase Akt and Mcl-1 are strongly expressed in the preneoplastic bile duct inflammatory disease primary sclerosing cholangitis and in human cholangiocarcinoma specimens. Immunoblotting showed that Akt is expressed and constitutively phosphorylated in 3 human cholangiocarcinoma lines. Further analysis showed that treatment with anti-IL-6-neutralizing antiserum led to reduced Akt phosphorylation, diminished Mcl-1 expression, and enhanced TRAIL sensitivity. Likewise, the Akt inhibitor A443654.3 led to diminished signaling through the Akt pathway, decreased Mcl-1 expression, and enhanced TRAIL-mediated apoptosis. Conclusions: These findings not only show that an autocrine IL-6/Akt signaling pathway enhances Mcl-1 expression in cholangiocarcinoma but also suggest a strategy for overcoming the resulting apoptosis resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2054-2065
Number of pages12
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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