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Cancers (Basel)


Antiestrogen therapy (AET) is an alternative to cytotoxic chemotherapy for recurrent ovarian cancer, yet the often short duration of response suggests mechanisms of resistance. We previously demonstrated that tumor microenvironment interleukin-6/leukemia inhibitory factor (IL6/LIF) cytokines induce tumor cell JAK-STAT signaling to promote cancer growth. Crosstalk between estrogen signaling and cytokine signaling has been reported. Therefore, we sought to characterize the impact of IL6/LIF signaling on estrogen signaling in epithelial ovarian cancer and investigate the efficacy of combination therapy. We first assessed patient tumors for cytokine expression and compared it with response to AET to determine clinical relevance. In vitro, we determined the effect of IL6/LIF on estrogen receptor expression and signaling. Cell viability assays were used to determine the efficacy and potential synergy of cytokine blockade and AET. We then extended studies to animal models, incorporating patient-derived stromal cells. Our results demonstrated shorter progression-free interval on AET in patients with stromal IL6/LIF expression. In vitro, IL6/LIF increased tumor cell estrogen receptor expression and signaling, and combination cytokine blockade and AET resulted in synergistic inhibition of tumor cell growth. The anticancer effect was verified in a mouse model. In conclusion, due to crosstalk between IL6/LIF cytokine signaling and estrogen signaling, dual blockade is a potential new treatment approach for ovarian cancer.

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