Research Papers:

Modeling anti-IL-6 therapy using breast cancer patient-derived xenografts

Beatriz Morancho, Mariano Zacarías-Fluck, Antonio Esgueva, Cristina Bernadó-Morales, Serena Di Cosimo, Aleix Prat, Javier Cortés, Joaquín Arribas _ and Isabel T. Rubio

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:67956-67965. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.11815

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Beatriz Morancho1, Mariano Zacarías-Fluck1, Antonio Esgueva2, Cristina Bernadó-Morales1, Serena Di Cosimo3, Aleix Prat1,4,5, Javier Cortés1, Joaquín Arribas1,6,7 and Isabel T. Rubio2

1 Preclinical and Clinical Research Programs, Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology, Barcelona, Spain

2 Breast Surgical Unit, Breast Cancer Center, Hospital Universitario Vall d´Hebron, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

3 Division of Oncology, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milano, Italy

4 Department of Medical Oncology, Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

5 Translational Genomics and Targeted Therapeutics in Solid Tumors, August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute, Barcelona, Spain

6 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Campus de la UAB, Bellaterra, Spain

7 Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats, Barcelona, Spain

Correspondence to:

Isabel T. Rubio, email:

Joaquín Arribas, email:

Keywords: breast cancer, IL-6, STAT3, patient-derived xenografts

Received: January 08, 2016 Accepted: August 27, 2016 Published: September 01, 2016


The pleiotropic cytokine IL-6 accelerates the progression of breast cancer in a variety of preclinical models through the activation of the STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3) signaling pathway. However, the proportion of breast cancers sensitive to anti-IL-6 therapies is not known. This study evaluates the efficacy of anti-IL-6 therapies using breast cancer patient derived xenografts (PDXs). During the generation of our collection of PDXs, we showed that the successful engraftment of tumor tissue in immunodeficient mice correlates with bad prognosis. Four PDXs out of six were resistant to anti-IL-6 therapies and the expression of IL-6, its receptor or the levels of phospho-STAT3 (the active form of the signal transducer) did not correlate with sensitivity. Using cell cultures established from the PDXs as well as samples from in vivo treatments, we showed that only tumors in which the activation of STAT3 depends on IL-6 respond to the blocking antibodies. Our results indicate that only a fraction of breast tumors are responsive to anti-IL-6 therapies. In order to identify responsive tumors, a functional assay to determine the dependence of STAT3 activation on IL-6 should be performed.

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