The role of interleukin-6 in the angiogenesis of ovarian carcinoma

Monique Boagni Nilsson, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The purpose of this study was to characterize the effects of IL-6 on endothelial cells and to investigate the role of IL-6 in the angiogenesis of ovarian carcinomas. We evaluated human ovarian carcinoma clinical specimens and determined that high expression of IL-6 was associated with increased tumor vascularization. Additionally, endothelial cells derived from the ovary and mesentery expressed the IL-6 receptor (IL-6R), and their stimulation with the exogenous ligand activated downstream signaling molecules and enhanced cell migration. Dual immunohistochemical staining for CD-31 and IL-6R revealed IL-6R expression on human endothelial cells within normal ovary and ovarian carcinomas. To further investigate the possible proangiogenic function of IL-6, Gelfoam sponges containing IL-6 or bFGF were implanted into the subcutis of BALB/c mice. IL-6 containing sponges were vascularized to the same extent as bFGF containing sponges. Chronic stress can adversely affect disease progression. Stimulation of ovarian carcinoma cell lines with concentrations of catecholamines achieved in individuals experiencing chronic stress resulted in a substantial increase in IL-6 production. It was determined that stress mediators regulate IL-6 expression through the β-adrenergic receptor and Src. These data illustrate one mechanism by which chronic stress may influence tumor progression. To investigate whether IL-6 contributes to the angiogenesis of ovarian carcinomas, we isolated low IL-6 expressing clones from the SKOV3.ip1 cell line and transfected them with a plasmid encoding the IL-6 gene. We observed no difference in tumor weight between high and low IL-6 expressing cells. However, while low IL-6 expressing tumors were highly vascularized, high IL-6 expressing tumors appeared hypervascularized. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that all tumors exhibited robust expression of additional proangiogenic molecules. Collectively, these studies indicate that IL-6 secreted by ovarian cancer cells is a highly proangiogenic cytokine. However, IL-6 is but one of several proangiogenic molecules produced by ovarian cancer, and its inhibition may not be sufficient to inhibit angiogenesis of ovarian carcinoma. The findings presented in this dissertation provide insight into the function of IL-6 as a regulator of angiogenesis. Understanding of the role of proangiogenic molecules such as IL-6 in ovarian carcinoma may have important implications for therapy directed at the vascular component of this disease.

Subject Area

Cellular biology|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Nilsson, Monique Boagni, "The role of interleukin-6 in the angiogenesis of ovarian carcinoma" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3193458.