Cancer research

Autophagy inhibition by sustained overproduction of IL6 contributes to arsenic carcinogenesis.

PMID 24830721


Chronic inflammation has been implicated as an etiologic factor in cancer, whereas autophagy may help preserve cancer cell survival but exert anti-inflammatory effects. How these phenomenas interact during carcinogenesis remains unclear. We explored this question in a human bronchial epithelial cell-based model of lung carcinogenesis that is mediated by subchronic exposure to arsenic. We found that sustained overexpression of the pro-inflammatory IL6 promoted arsenic-induced cell transformation by inhibiting autophagy. Conversely, strategies to enhance autophagy counteracted the effect of IL6 in the model. These findings were confirmed and extended in a mouse model of arsenic-induced lung cancer. Mechanistic investigations suggested that mTOR inhibition contributed to the activation of autophagy, whereas IL6 overexpression was sufficient to block autophagy by supporting Beclin-1/Mcl-1 interaction. Overall, our findings argued that chronic inflammatory states driven by IL6 could antagonize autophagic states that may help preserve cancer cell survival and promote malignant progression, suggesting a need to uncouple inflammation and autophagy controls to enable tumor progression.