Interleukin-6 Functions as an Intracellular Growth Factor in Hairy Cell Leukemia In Vitro

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The role of interleukin-6 (IL-6) in the growth of B cell derived hairy cell leukemia (HCL) was characterized. Purified hairy cells (HCs) did not increase DNA synthesis in vitro in response to exogenous IL-6; however, they expressed IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) mRNA and bound directly fluorochrome labeled IL-6. IL-6 mRNA was not detectable in tumor cells by Northern blotting, but was evident using PCR amplification. Although intracytoplasmic IL-6 protein was not demonstrable, HCs did secrete low levels of IL-6. Neutralizing antibody to IL-6 did not inhibit HC DNA synthesis. Since tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a growth factor for HCL, we determined whether the TNF effect could be IL-6-mediated. TNF markedly augmented in vitro DNA synthesis by HCs. TNF did not alter IL-6R expression or IL-6 binding; however, IL-6 mRNA and IL-6 protein were detectable after 3-d culture of HCs with TNF. In addition, IL-6 secretion by HCs was markedly augmented by TNF. Finally, although neither IL-6 nor anti-IL-6 antibody altered TNF-induced DNA synthesis by HCs, IL-6 antisense oligonucleotide inhibited TNF-induced DNA synthesis and IL-6 secretion by HCs. Therefore, IL-6 does not directly affect the growth of HCL, but rather mediates TNF-induced DNA synthesis via an intracytoplasmic mechanism. (J. Clin. Invest. 1993. 92:2346-2352.) Key words: B cell malignancy. tumor necrosis factor. interleukin-6 antisense oligonucleotide. IL-6 receptors. autocrine growth factor

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