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Spontaneous Release of Interleukin-6 by Primary Cultures of Lymphoid and Tumor Cell Populations Purified from Human Ovarian Carcinoma


Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a cytokine that has been implicated as a growth factor in human ovarian carcinoma, yet the in vivo source of IL-6 in patients remains undefined. We measured IL-6 by ELISA in cell-free ascites (CFA) of 19 patients with ovarian carcinoma. IL-6 was detectable in all samples (mean level 3.3 ng/ml). To identify the cellular source of IL-6, we measured this cytokine by ELISA in 24-48 h supernatants of cultured lymphocyte-, macrophage-, and tumor cell-enriched populations purified from three solid ovarian carcinomas by centrifugal elutriation. All cell populations spontaneously released IL-6; however, tumor cells and tumor-associated macrophage released levels of IL-6 that greatly exceeded those released by tumor-associated lymphocytes. Kinetic studies revealed that IL-6 was detectable at 6 h and that levels increased in all cultures examined over a 48 h time course. These data suggest that both tumor and infiltrating host cells may be the source of the high levels of IL-6 found in carcinomatous ascites. Furthermore, although all three cell types examined may contribute to IL-6 production in patients with ovarian carcinoma, tumor cells are perhaps the most clinically significant source.

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