American Lung Association/LUNGevity Foundation
American Cancer Society
Center for Inflammation and Cancer, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center
UT Lung Specialized Programs of Research Excellence
MD Anderson Institutional Tissue Bank
ARTICLE ABSTRACTActivating mutations of K-ras are the most common oncogenic alterations found in lung cancer. Unfortunately, attempts to target K-ras–mutant lung tumors have thus far failed, clearly indicating the need for new approaches in patients with this molecular profile. We have previously shown NF-κB activation, release of IL6, and activation of its responsive transcription factor STAT3 in K-ras–mutant lung tumors, which was further amplified by the tumor-enhancing effect of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)-type airway inflammation. These findings suggest an essential role for this inflammatory pathway in K-ras–mutant lung tumorigenesis and its enhancement by COPD. Therefore, here we blocked IL6 using a monoclonal anti-IL6 antibody in a K-ras–mutant mouse model of lung cancer in the absence or presence of COPD-type airway inflammation. IL6 blockade significantly inhibited lung cancer promotion, tumor cell–intrinsic STAT3 activation, tumor cell proliferation, and angiogenesis markers. Moreover, IL6 inhibition reduced expression of protumor type 2 molecules (arginase 1, Fizz 1, Mgl, and IDO), number of M2-type macrophages and granulocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells, and protumor T-regulatory/Th17 cell responses. This was accompanied by increased expression of antitumor type 1 molecule (Nos2), and antitumor Th1/CD8 T-cell responses. Our study demonstrates that IL6 blockade not only has direct intrinsic inhibitory effect on tumor cells, but also reeducates the lung microenvironment toward an antitumor phenotype by altering the relative proportion between protumor and antitumor immune cells. This information introduces IL6 as a potential druggable target for prevention and treatment of K-ras–mutant lung tumors. Cancer Res; 76(11); 3189–99. ©2016 AACR.