Interleukin 6 mediates production of interleukin 10 in metastatic melanoma.
We previously reported that substantial amounts of IL-10, an immunomodulatory cytokine, are produced by cell suspensions of fresh human metastatic melanoma tissues. Production diminished with continuous culturing of cells, which suggests a pivotal interactive role between melanoma cells and the tumor microenvironment. In this study, we found that the culture media obtained from LPS-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells induced IL-10 production by metastatic melanoma cells. Of the multiple cytokines present in the conditioned culture media, IL-6 was identified as the inducer of IL-10 production. A neutralizing antibody against IL-6 completely blocked the conditioned medium-induced IL-10 production. Metastatic melanoma cells that constitutively produce low amount of IL-10 increased IL-10 production in response to recombinant human IL-6 in a dose-dependent fashion. The response to exogenously added IL-6 was less significant in melanoma cells that produced high amounts of IL-6, probably due to pre-existing autocrine stimulation of IL-10 by endogenous IL-6. On the other hand, metastatic melanoma cells that do not constitutively produce IL-10 protein did not respond to exogenous IL-6. In IL-6-responsive melanoma cells, IL-6 increased STAT3 phosphorylation and inhibition of STAT3 signaling using siRNA or inhibitors for JAKs diminished IL-6-induced IL-10 production. In addition, inhibition of MEK and PI3K, but not mTOR, interfered with IL-10 production. Taken together, the data suggest that blocking of these signals leading to IL-10 production is a potential strategy to enhance an anti-melanoma immune response in metastatic melanoma.