We sought to determine the frequency of interleukin-6 (IL-6) expression in renal cancer cell lines, the frequency of the detection of IL-6 in the serum of patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma, whether serum IL-6 level correlates with the development of paraneoplastic syndromes and whether serum IL-6 level in patients with metastatic renal cancer correlates with response to treatment with interleukin-2 (IL-2) or patient survival.Materials and Methods
Conditioned media from 21 cell lines from 20 patients were examined for IL-6. We identified 2 matched groups of patients with metastatic renal cancer (30 responders and 29 nonresponders) to IL-2 based immunotherapy. Stored pretreatment serum specimens were evaluated for IL-6. Medical records were reviewed to determine the presence of paraneoplastic syndromes.Results
IL-6 was detected in 19 of 21 renal cancer cell lines (90%) obtained from 20 patients with metastatic renal cancer as well as in the serum of 33 of 59 patients (56%) with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. A significant association between serum IL-6 level and anemia (p = 0.0032), elevated platelet count (p = 0.01), decreased albumin (p = 0.034) and elevated alkaline phosphatase (p = 0.04) was found. A trend was noted of the association of increased serum IL-6 level and fever (p = 0.051). No correlation was found between pretreatment serum IL-6 level and survival or response to IL-2.Conclusions
IL-6 was frequently secreted by renal cancer cell lines but it was only present in the serum of approximately half of the patients with metastatic renal cancer. Elevations of serum IL-6 were associated with paraneoplastic manifestations frequently seen in patients with renal cancer, including anemia, thrombocytosis, decreased albumin and elevations of alkaline phosphatase (Stauffer's syndrome). A weak relationship was noted between serum IL-6 level and fever but none was noted between that and survival or response to IL-2.