Aims: The mechanisms of progression in biliary tract cancer (BTC) with inflammation, including epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), are not well understood. We focused on two inflammation-associated cytokines, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-β1), and investigated their expression and activity, as well as their relationship to key features of malignancy, in tumour samples from patients with BTC and in cultured BTC cells. Methods: We employed five BTC cell lines (MzChA-1, gemcitabine-resistant MzChA-1, HuCCT-1, KMCH and CCLP-1) to evaluate IL-6/TGF-β1 expression, tumour cell invasion, EMT and chemoresistance to gemcitabine in the presence or absence of recombinant human (rh) IL-6 and TGF-β1. Possible pathways were evaluated with specific pathway inhibitors and small interfering RNA (siRNA). We also used 20 resected specimens from patients with BTC to verify the results in vitro. Results: IL-6 and TGF-β1 expression was associated with features of malignancy such as EMT and chemoresistance in the four BTC cell lines. Addition of rh IL-6 and TGF-β1 increased endogenous IL-6 and TGF-β1 expression through crosstalk and induced cell invasion, EMT and chemoresistance. Smad4 functioned in this process in a dominant manner, and inhibition by SMAD4 siRNA reduced IL-6 and TGF-β1 expression, blocked invasion, and reversed EMT and chemoresistance in cells exposed to rh IL-6 and TGF-β1 and in gemcitabine-resistant cells. Immunohistochemistry in resected specimens revealed IL6, TGF-β1, N-cadherin and Smad4 staining at the invasion front. Conclusion: Crosstalk between IL-6 and TGF-β1 is associated with malignant features, including EMT, and Smad4 works in a dominant manner to promote these features.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research