An Approach to Breast Cancer Immunotherapy: The Apoptotic Activity of Recombinant Anti-Interleukin-6 Monoclonal Antibodies in Intact Tumour Microenvironment of Breast Carcinoma

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Current work is one of our comprehensive preclinical studies, a new approach to breast cancer (BC) immunotherapy through induction of tumour cell apoptosis. Tumour growth is not just a result of uncontrolled cell proliferation but also of reduced apoptosis. High levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) are associated with metastatic BC and correlated with poor survival as it promotes growth of tumour-initiating cells during early tumorigenesis protecting these cells from apoptosis. Therefore, this study aims at investigating the potential of anti-IL-6 monoclonal antibodies to suppress IL-6 proliferative/anti-apoptotic activities in intact tumour microenvironment of BC. Fresh sterile tumour and normal breast tissue specimens were taken from 50 female Egyptian patients with BC undergoing radical mastectomy. A unique tissue culture system designed to provide cells of each intact tumour/normal tissue sample with its proper microenvironment either supplemented or not with anti-IL-6 monoclonal antibodies. To evaluate the apoptotic activity of anti-IL-6 as a novel candidate for BC treatment strategy, we compared its effects with those obtained using tumour necrosis-related apoptosis-inducing ligand TRAIL as an established apoptotic agent. Our results revealed that levels of either anti-IL-6- or TRAIL-induced apoptosis in the tumour or normal tissue cultures were significantly higher than those in their corresponding untreated ones (P < 0.001). No statistically significant differences have been found between apoptosis levels induced by anti-IL-6 monoclonal antibodies and those induced by TRAIL. Recombinant anti-IL-6 monoclonal antibodies could represent a novel effective element of immunotherapeutic treatment strategy for BC. The selectivity and anti-apoptotic potential of anti-IL-6 is highly hopeful in IL-6- abundant BC tumour microenvironment.

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