Ligand-dependent EGFR activation induces the co-expression of IL-6 and PAI-1 via the NFkB pathway in advanced-stage epithelial ovarian cancer

C. Alberti, P. Pinciroli, B. Valeri, R. Ferri, A. Ditto, K. Umezawa, M. Sensi, S. Canevari, A. Tomassetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a member of the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases, is expressed in up to 70% of epithelial ovarian cancers (EOCs), where it correlates with poor prognosis. The majority of EOCs are diagnosed at an advanced stage, and at least 50% present malignant ascites. High levels of IL-6 have been found in the ascites of EOC patients and correlate with shorter survival. Herein, we investigated the signaling cascade led by EGFR activation in EOC and assessed whether EGFR activation could induce an EOC microenvironment characterized by pro-inflammatory molecules. In vitro analysis of EOC cell lines revealed that ligand-stimulated EGFR activated NFkB-dependent transcription and induced secretion of IL-6 and plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1). IL-6/PAI-1 expression and secretion were strongly inhibited by the tyrosine kinase inhibitor AG1478 and EGFR silencing. A significant reduction of EGF-stimulated IL-6/PAI-1 secretion was also obtained with the NFkB inhibitor dehydroxymethylepoxyquinomicin. Of 23 primary EOC tumors from advanced-stage patients with malignant ascites at surgery, 12 co-expressed membrane EGFR, IL-6 and PAI-1 by immunohistochemistry; both IL-6 and PAI-1 were present in 83% of the corresponding ascites. Analysis of a publicly available gene-expression data set from 204 EOCs confirmed a significant correlation between IL-6 and PAI-1 expression, and patients with the highest IL-6 and PAI-1 co-expression showed a significantly shorter progression-free survival time (P0.028). This suggests that EGFR/NFkB/IL-6-PAI-1 may have a significant impact on the therapy of a particular subset of EOC, and that IL-6/PAI-1 co-expression may be a novel prognostic marker.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4139-4149
Number of pages11
JournalOncogene
Volume31
Issue number37
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012

Keywords

  • EGFR
  • epithelial ovarian cancer
  • IL-6
  • NFkB
  • PAI-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research
  • Genetics

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