Interleukin-6 (IL-6) has emerged as a cytokine involved in cachexia progression with some cancers. This review will present the recent breakthroughs in animal models and humans related to targeting IL-6 as a cancer cachexia therapy.
IL-6 can target adipose, skeletal muscle, gut, and liver tissue, which can all affect cachectic patient recovery. IL-6 trans-signaling through the soluble IL-6R has the potential to amplify IL-6 signaling in the cachectic patient. In the skeletal muscle, chronic IL-6 exposure induces proteasome and autophagy protein degradation pathways that lead to wasting. IL-6 is also indirectly associated with AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) activation. Several mouse cancer models have clearly demonstrated that blocking IL-6 and associated signaling can attenuate cachexia progression. Additionally, pharmaceuticals targeting IL-6 and associated signaling can relieve some cachectic symptoms in cancer patients. Research with cachectic mice has demonstrated that exercise and nutraceutical administration can interact with chronic IL-6 signaling during cachexia progression.
IL-6 remains a promising therapeutic strategy for attenuating cachexia progression with many types of cancer. However, improvement of this treatment will require a better understanding of the indirect and direct effects of IL-6 as well as its tissue-specific actions in the cancer patient.
aIntegrative Muscle Biology Laboratory, Department of Exercise Science
bDivision of Applied Physiology, Department of Exercise Science
cCenter for Colon Cancer Research, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
Correspondence to James A. Carson, PhD, Department of Exercise Science, Public Health Research Center, University of South Carolina, Room 405, 921 Assembly Street, Columbia, SC 29208, USA. Tel: +1 803 777 0809, +1 803 777 0142; fax: +1 803 777 8422; e-mail: email@example.com